Will knowledge about more efficient study designs increase the willingness to pre-register?

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Pre-registration is a straightforward way to make science more transparent, and control Type 1 error rates. Pre-registration is often presented as beneficial for science in general, but rarely as a practice that leads to immediate individual benefits for researchers. One benefit of pre-registered studies is that they allow for non-conventional research designs that are more efficient than conventional designs. For example, by performing one-tailed tests and sequential analyses researchers can perform well-powered studies much more efficiently. Here, I examine whether such non-conventional but more efficient designs are considered appropriate by editors under the pre-condition that the analysis plans are pre-registered, and if so, whether researchers are more willing to pre-register their analysis plan to take advantage of the efficiency benefits of non-conventional designs. Study 1 shows the large majority of editors judged one-tailed tests and sequential analyses to be appropriate in psychology, but only when such analyses are pre-registered. In Study 2 I asked experimental psychologists to indicate their attitude towards pre-registration. Half of these researchers first read about the acceptance of one-tailed tests and sequential analyses by editors, and the efficiency gains of using these procedures. However, learning about the efficiency benefits associated with one-tailed tests and sequential analyses did not substantially influence researchers' attitudes about benefits and costs of pre-registration, or their willingness to pre-register studies. The self-reported likelihood of pre-registering studies in the next two years, as well as the percentage of studies researchers planned to pre-register in the future, was surprisingly high. 47% of respondents already had experience pre-registering, and 94% of respondents indicated that they would consider pre-registering at least some of their research in the future. Given this already strong self-reported willingness to pre-register studies, pointing out immediate individual benefits seems unlikely to be a useful way to increase researchers' willingness to pre-register any further.

Lakens, D. (2017, March 14). Will knowledge about more efficient study designs increase the willingness to pre-register?. https://doi.org/10.31222/osf.io/svzyc

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