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Preregistration

What is preregistration?
BSI encourages its researchers to consider preregistering their studies (but does not require it). The goal of preregistration is transparency. During research, researchers make many decisions, such as how much data to collect and what analyses to conduct. In a preregistration, researchers specify these steps before collecting data, or before conducting analyses when analyzing existing data. Preregistration thus clarifies the distinction between confirmatory and exploratory research. However, it does not discourage data exploration.

Why does BSI encourage preregistration?
Preregistration is on the rise in the Social Sciences. BSI science and scientists can benefit from adopting this practice for several reasons:

1. BSI aims to conduct high-quality research. Preregistration will increase the number of true findings by reducing the scope for researchers to (unintentionally) bias their data collection, analyses, and reporting. As such, preregistration increases findings that are reproducible and replicable.
2. BSI aims to publish in high-quality scientific journals and an increasing number of such journals rewards preregistration. For instance, over 150 journals now accept Registered Reports—a format in which a research protocol is peer reviewed and possibly accepted for publication (based on its quality, irrespective of study outcomes), before the research has been conducted.
3. BSI aims to acquire funding from grant agencies. Some grant agencies reward preregistration and some BSI scholars have received positive evaluations of their preregistrations.

How do BSI researchers preregister?
Some BSI faculty preregister their research on well-known platforms, such as the Open Science Framework or AsPredicted (see below). PhD students at BSI write a PhD proposal, which overlaps with the information requested in a preregistration (e.g., hypotheses, a plan for data collection and analyses). Once PhD students receive approval from the Science Committee, preregistering their research requires little additional work. They use one of the templates provided below. As there is no single agreed-upon format for preregistration, these templates do not guarantee that colleagues or journals will find your preregistration adequate. However, as many scholars use these templates and they are widely appreciated, the odds are good.

The Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/) is the most widely used platform for preregistration; another popular platform is AsPredicted (https://aspredicted.org/). OSF offers multiple options. One is to simply upload a document with information that you wish to preregister. This format is flexible and can be used before collecting data, or after initial data collection. The document will be time-stamped and cannot be modified. However, it is always possible to upload an additional document stating changes (e.g., you may learn about a better analysis) —a preregistration is a plan, not a prison. This format also allows you to decide when your preregistration will become visible for other researchers (e.g., before conducting the study, or after submitting to a journal).

It is also possible to preregister your research by answering a series of concrete questions on the OSF or AsPredicted. These templates are designed for studies for which no data has been collected yet. The advantage of such a structured approach is that you are less likely to overlook information in your preregistration. The level of detail of your answers to these questions is up to you (in the typical case, more details are more convincing, as these reduce researchers’ degrees of freedom).

How does BSI promote preregistration?
BSI awards a preregistration award for papers written by PhD students. For more information, see here.

Want to know more?
For questions surrounding preregistration, BSI has a preregistration FAQ and provides further resources.