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Preregistration

Preregistration of an analysis plan is committing to analytic steps without advance knowledge of the research outcomes.  That commitment is usually accomplished by posting the analysis plan to an independent registry such as https://clinicaltrials.gov/ or https://osf.io | Nosek, 2018

One way to increase the integrity and reproducibility of scientific research is through preregistration. In this section the concept is introduced. 

In a nutshell

In 2014, Nosek and Lakens introduced a new publication format, the so-called 'Registered Reports'  (Nosek & Lakens, 2014). In preregistration, peer reviewers assess the research question and research methodology. And they do so before the research is actually carried out. If the assessment is positive, this leads to a provisional acceptance of the future publication, provided that the authors follow their registered protocol. You can see preregistration as a kind of self-protection against our own thinking errors (Begley, 2013). 

Despite the value of integrity, transparency and reproducibility, preregistration has only just started (Nosek, 2018) and preregistrations still vary in quality and specificity (Campbell, 2019) To make preregistration a success:

  • It is necessary to learn from each other what works and what does not work (Claessen, 2019).
  • Information and training is necessary (Nosek, 2018).

In the latter, data supporters may play a facilitating role. 

In the spotlight


Journals with preregistration as an option

You can find a list of journals with preregistration as an option at the Center for Open Science (n.d.) 

List with Registered Reports

Zotero has a list with registered reports, maintained by the Open Science Framework (2019.)

Tools for preregistration

Free tools to assist with pre-registration are, for example, AsPredicted (Wharton University of Pennsylvania, n.d.), Open Science Framework (n.d.) and Registed Reports (Center for Open Science, n.d.b.). Clinical studies use Clinicaltrials.gov (US National Library of Medicine, n.d.). 

Preregistration template for quantitative research

An example of a preregistration template voor quantitative research (OSL / PT, n.D.).

About the usefulness of preregistration in qualitative research

In an article in the journal Accountability in Research, the authors write about the differences between the use of preregistrations in qualitative and quantitative research. In quantitative research, the chance of misconduct due to preregistration decreases and the chance that results can be replicated increases.The authors argue that preregistration can also be useful in qualitative research and show what a preregistration template for qualitative research might look like. (Haven & Van Grootel, 2019). 

A researcher talks about preregistration

In this video, from 1:02:30 onwards, shares his experiences about preregistration during a meeting on replication studies. It took him a lot of time, but it saved him time when publishing. Have a look and judge for yourself.(Delft University of Technology, 2019). 


Sources

Click to open/close

Begley (2013). Six red flags for suspect work. [Comment]. Nature, vol. 497, p433-434. https://doi.org/10.1038/497433a

Campbell, L. (2019). Workshop introduction to pre-registration [Slides] https://osf.io/drwcp/

Center for Open Science (n.d.a.). What is Preregistration https://cos.io/prereg/

Center for Open Science (n.d.b.). Registered Reports. https://cos.io/rr/ 

Claesen, A., Gomes, S. L. B. T., Tuerlinckx, F., Vanpaemel, W. (2019, May 9). Preregistration: Comparing Dream to Reality. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/d8wex 

Delft University of Technology (2019). Meeting about replication studies. [video] https://collegerama.tudelft.nl/Mediasite/FileServer/2fa71667-5d89-4131-b70d-d2cac9fa99c1/Presentation/fdcac32b689c4268b59a7c7b47b8f0971d/videopodcast.mp4 

Haven, T.L. & Van Groote, L. (2019). Preregistering qualitative research, Accountability in Research, 26:3, 229-244. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2019.1580147 

Nosek, B. A., & Lakens, D. (2014). Registered reports: A method to increase the credibility of published results. Social Psychology, 45(3), 137-141. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/1864-9335/a000192

Nosek, B.A., Ebersole, C.R, DeHaven, A.C., Mellor, D.T. (2018). The preregistration revolution. PNAS March 13, 2018 115 (11) 2600-2606. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1708274114

Open Science Framework (2019). Library of Registered Reports. https://www.zotero.org/groups/479248/osf/items/collectionKey/KEJP68G9? 

OSL/PT (n.d.). Preregistration Template https://drive.google.com/file/d/1e48AGjlj_pKz3l9kgJQXjGVFNLaz3aCG/view

US National Library of Medicine (n.d.). ClinicalTrials.gov. https://clinicaltrials.gov/

Wharton University of Pennsylvani (n.d.). As Predicted. https://aspredicted.org/