The Center for Open Science describes Registered Reports as “a publishing format…that emphasizes the importance of the research question and the quality of methodology by conducting peer review prior to data collection”. In practice this means changing the way research is conducted and published.
Background and benefits
A Registered Report is a form of empirical article offered by the journal. The methods and proposed analyses are submitted to the journal for review prior to research being conducted. High-quality protocols are then provisionally accepted for publication and are pre-registered before data collection commences.
This format is designed to improve research design while minimizing publication bias other issues in hypothesis-driven research. It allows for the flexibility to conduct exploratory (unregistered) analyses and report unplanned findings.
Registered Reports aim to reduce questionable research practices such as P-hacking, Cherry Picking, HARKing.
Taylor & Francis journals
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The review process for Registered Reports is divided into two stages. At Stage 1, reviewers assess study proposals before data are collected. At Stage 2, reviewers consider the full study, including results and interpretation.
Stage 1 manuscripts will include only an ‘introduction’, ‘methods’ (including proposed analyses), and ‘pilot data’ (where applicable). In considering papers at stage 1, reviewers will be asked to assess:
The importance of the research question(s).
The logic, rationale, and plausibility of the proposed hypotheses.
The soundness and feasibility of the methodology and analysis pipeline (including statistical power analysis where appropriate).
Whether the clarity and degree of methodological detail is sufficient to exactly replicate the proposed experimental procedures and analysis pipeline.
Whether the authors have pre-specified sufficient outcome-neutral tests for ensuring that the results obtained are able to test the stated hypotheses, including positive controls and quality checks.
Following Stage 1 peer review, manuscripts will be accepted, offered the opportunity to revise, or rejected outright. Manuscripts that pass peer review will be issued an in principle acceptance (IPA), indicating that the article will be published pending successful completion of the study according to the pre-registered methods and analytic procedures, as well as a defensible and evidence-based interpretation of the results.
Following completion of the study, authors will complete the manuscript, including results and discussion sections. These stage 2 manuscripts will more closely resemble a regular article format. The manuscript will then be returned to the reviewers, who will be asked to appraise whether:
The data are able to test the authors’ proposed hypotheses by satisfying the approved outcome-neutral conditions (such as quality checks, positive controls).
The ‘introduction’, rationale and stated hypotheses are the same as the approved stage 1 submission (required).
The authors adhered precisely to the registered experimental procedures.
Any unregistered post hoc analyses added by the authors are justified, methodologically sound, and informative.
The authors’ conclusions are justified given the data.
Reviewers at stage 2 may suggest that authors report additional post hoc tests on their data; however, authors are not obliged to do so unless such tests are necessary to satisfy one or more of the stage 2 review criteria.
Please note that editorial decisions will not be based on the perceived importance, novelty, or conclusiveness of the results.
Registered Reports on F1000Research
F1000Research welcomes Registered Reports, but follows a slightly different model where both the Study Protocol and the consequent Research Article are published and peer-reviewed. Most journals typically only publish the Research Article, so the F1000Research approach to Registered Reports rewards authors with an additional citable publication, and goes further in supporting transparent, reproducible research.
When the final version is published the article will look the same as any other research article in that journal.
One of the benefits of Registered Reports is that they support negative results (when the results do not meet the hypothesis). So as long as you submitted your 1st stage manuscript and were accepted you can still proceed with the publication of your article.
The journals will endeavor for the same reviewers to review both parts of the manuscript, but there may be situations where this is not possible.
In cases where the pre-registered protocol is altered after IPA due to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. change of equipment or unanticipated technical error), the authors must consult the editors immediately for advice, and prior to the completion of data collection. Minor changes to the protocol may be permitted according to editorial discretion.
It is possible that authors with an IPA may wish to withdraw their manuscript following or during data collection. Possible reasons could include major technical error, an inability to complete the study due to other unforeseen circumstances, or the desire to submit the results to a different journal. In all such cases, manuscripts can of course be withdrawn at the authors’ discretion. Some journals will publish a short note saying that the a previously accepted article has been withdrawn.
Registered Reports and preregistration are not the same thing. While Registered Reports articles follow the workflow outlined above, preregistration of research is more often required for research in medical, health sciences or psychology research for projects involving human participants – such as clinical trials. The aim of preregistration is to increase transparency around which projects are underway and who is funding them. This can also avoid duplication of effort. Each subject area will have specific conventions for how to preregister research projects, established repositories include www.clinicaltrials.gov and PROSPERO.