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.
Registered Reports changes the way that experiments are designed and conducted by breaking the peer review process into two parts. The first round of peer review is much earlier in the process than the standard research workflow, after the experiment has been designed but before any data has been collected or analyzed.
This workflow allows you to get feedback on both the question you are looking to answer, and the experiment you have designed to test it. The initial submission is peer reviewed on the basis of:
The journal can ask you to make revisions, as well as making reject or accept decisions. 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.
You are encouraged to then publish your in-principle acceptance online (to register the research). One venue for this is with Center of Open Science. You can then proceed with the data collection and analysis.
Once the data is collected and analyzed, write up your research and submit the article back to the journal for second stage peer review and publication. The second round of peer review checks the data, that you followed the experiment outlined in your first submission, and other basic checks before the article moves into the production process as usual.
One of the benefits of the Registered Reports workflow is that if your article passes the first stage peer review the journal will still publish the final report even if your hypothesis is not confirmed.
Journals offering this article type provide further information on how to submit and what to expect as part of the Instructions for Authors page on their website.
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.
The majority of journals who offer this article type have it set up as an optional article type. However, all submissions to Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology need to be in this format.
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 editorial board 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.