Registered Reports are a specific type of empirical article where the methods and proposed analyses (known as Protocols) are pre-registered and reviewed before the research is conducted. This format aims to minimize biases, such as publication bias, in deductive science. It also allows for flexibility to conduct exploratory analyses and report unexpected findings.
The core principle of Registered Reports is the evaluation of research questions and proposed methods prior to data collection. A significant portion of the manuscript is assessed before data collection takes place. Only Protocols that address significant and relevant research questions are favorably reviewed. These Protocols should include a summary, background literature, hypotheses, experimental procedures, proposed data analyses, statistical power analysis or Bayesian equivalent, and pilot data if applicable.
The Protocols are evaluated by the editorial team for suitability. If they pass the initial assessment, they undergo in-depth peer review following the journal's standard practices. Protocols requiring substantial revisions are rejected before full review. If the Protocol receives a favorable review, it is granted an in-principle acceptance (IPA). The authors are then expected to conduct the proposed study exactly as outlined in the peer-reviewed procedures and submit their results (Registered Report) to the journal for final consideration. If authors need to deviate from the accepted Protocol, they must provide a full description of the alterations, along with a rationale. The Registered Report is sent to the same referees, when possible, for review to assess adherence to the Protocol and appropriateness of data interpretation. Authors are required to share their raw data as supporting information, and they are encouraged to upload their raw data and digital study materials to a publicly accessible file-sharing service. The manuscript will be published based on quality checks and a reasonable interpretation of the findings, regardless of the observed results.
Not all types of science are equally suited for Registered Reports. The format is most applicable to deductive scientific research, while purely exploratory research without a prior hypothesis or pure methods development may be less suitable. However, exceptions can be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Registered Report Protocol - Initial submission
When submitting an initial Registered Report Protocol, authors should include sections written in the future tense:
A review of the relevant literature that motivated the authors to ask the research question(s) and a full description of the experimental aims designed to answer such question(s). The research question should be novel and of importance (see scope for more information). Please note that following in-principle acceptance (IPA), the Introduction section of the Registered Report Protocol should not be changed apart from correction of factual errors, typographic errors and altering of tense from future to past (see below).
In considering papers at Registered Report Protocol stage, Editors and reviewers will be asked to assess:
Authors are reminded that any deviation from the stated experimental procedures, regardless of how minor it may seem to the authors, could lead to rejection of the manuscript at the Registered Report stage. In cases where the pre-registered protocol is more than trivially altered after IPA due, for example, to unforeseen circumstances (e.g. change of equipment or unanticipated technical error), the authors must contact the editorial team immediately for advice, and prior to the completion of data collection. Minor changes to the protocol may be permitted if fully explained and justified . All deviations must be reported in the Registered Report manuscript. If the authors wish to alter the experimental question or protocol more substantially following IPA, but still wish to publish their article as a Registered Report then the Registered Report Protocol must be withdrawn and resubmitted as a new submission.
Once the RRP is published it should be registered by the authors on the Open Science Framework or another recognised repository.
The journal welcomes submissions proposing secondary analyses of existing data sets, provided authors can supply sufficient evidence (e.g. self-certification; letter from independent gatekeeper) to confirm that they have had no prior access to the data in question. For advice on the eligibility of specific scenarios, authors are welcome to contact the editorial team.
Registered Report - Initial submission
Once the research is complete, authors should prepare their Registered Reports Results for further review. The structure and formatting of manuscripts submitted to Cad_Lin are described here.
Note that, apart from minor stylistic revisions, the Introduction should not be altered from the approved Protocol, and the stated hypotheses cannot be amended or appended. At the Registered Report stage, any description of the rationale or proposed methodology that was written in future tense within the Protocol manuscript should be changed to past tense. Any relevant literature that appeared following the date of IPA should be covered in the Discussion.
The outcome of all registered analyses must be reported in the manuscript, except in rare instances where a registered and approved analysis is subsequently shown to be logically flawed or unfounded. In such cases, the authors, reviewers, and editor must agree that the analysis is inappropriate. In such cases the analysis would still be mentioned in the Methods but omitted with justification from the Results.
It is reasonable that authors may wish to include additional analyses that were not included in the registered submission. For instance, a new analytic approach might become available between IPA and RRR submission, or a particularly interesting and unexpected finding may emerge. Such analyses are admissible but must be clearly justified in the text, appropriately caveated, and reported in a separate section of the Results titled “Exploratory analyses”. Authors should not base their conclusions solely on the outcome of statistically significant exploratory or unplanned analyses.
Authors reporting null hypothesis significance tests are required to report exact p values and effect sizes for all inferential analyses.
The Registered Report submission will most likely be considered by the same reviewers as in the Registered Report Protocol, but could also be assessed by new reviewers. In considering papers at Registered Report stage, reviewers will be asked to decide:
It is recommended that anonymised raw data and digital study materials are made freely available in a public repository/archive with a link provided within the Registed Report manuscript. Authors are free to use any repository that renders data and materials freely and publicly accessible and provides a digital object identifier (DOI) to ensure that the data remain persistent, unique and citable.
Other than pre-registered and approved pilot data, no data acquired prior to the date of IPA is admissible in the Registered Report submission. Raw data must be accompanied by guidance notes, where required, to assist other scientists in replicating the analysis plan. Authors are required to upload any relevant analysis scripts and other digital experimental materials that would assist in replication.
Reviewers are informed that editorial decisions at the Registered Report stage will not be based on the perceived 'importance' of the results, but rather on the adherence to the agreed Registered Report and the interpretation of these results. Thus, while reviewers are free to enter such comments on the record, they will not influence editorial decisions.