Registered Reports are a format of empirical article where a study proposal is reviewed before the research is undertaken. Pre-registered proposals that meet high scientific standards are then provisionally accepted before the outcomes are known, independently of the results.
Most areas of science suffer from publication bias, where results that are positive and clear are easier to publish than those that are negative or inconclusive, even when the methodological quality of the studies is the same. By provisionally accepting articles before results exist, we abolish this bias.
Publication bias drives various forms of research bias, in which researchers (even unconsciously) selectively report results that are easier to publish, or even change their hypothesis in order to “predict” an unexpected finding. Registered Reports neutralise this bias by requiring authors to commit to their hypotheses and analysis plans before they commence their research.
The broader goal of Registered Reports is to reshape the incentive structures in science so that individual researchers are rewarded for simply doing the best and most transparent science they can, over and above their ability to craft good stories. The format also prevents publication being blocked by reviewers on the basis of the results differing from expectations or desires. On the other hand, intensive pre-study review can help solve problems in study designs before they occur, maximising the quality and impact of a study and overcoming a major source of stress for authors in the publication process. The format also provides a route for researchers to conduct replication studies and other novel, resource-intensive projects that may otherwise be too risky to attempt where successful publication is contingent on the results.
Following an innovative tradition, Cadernos de Linguística launched a call for publication of Registered Reports. Read the full call here and submit your proposal!