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Registered Reports
Policy on publishing at Stage 1 and Stage 2

This policy recommendation presents and explains the Wiley position on when to publish Registered Reports.


Background

Some of the reasons why Registered Reports are a positive change for researchers and journals are described in our post: 8 Answers About Registered Reports, Research Preregistration, and Why Both Are Important.


Journals that offer researchers Registered Reports use peer review in two stages.


Stage 1 peer review gives researchers "in principle acceptance" for their final paper before they begin their study. That in principle acceptance is based on peer review of the study methods, to assess the importance of the research question being asked and the quality of the methods chosen to address that research question. In principle acceptance is typically contingent on sufficient study power and quality control measures that ensure that results are interpretable regardless of the primary outcome of the study.


Stage 2 peer review checks that the researchers did their study according to their "registered" Stage 1 study design, checks that any deviations from that design are appropriate and explained, and checks that the results are reported completely and transparently.


Policy Recommendation: Journals should offer two options for authors at Stage 1

Wiley recommends that journals publish Registered Reports after successful Stage 1 peer review. If a different approach is preferred, journals should require that researchers pre-register their peer reviewed study design (with an optional embargo, set by the researchers) as a condition of their in-principle acceptance. Preregistration with embargo is made possible by, for example, the Open Science Framework and other registries such as ClinicalTrials.gov, or those established for discipline-specific studies such as:



Discussion

There are a variety of valid reasons why researchers may find publication of their Stage 1 study design or protocol problematic after successful Stage 1 peer review. The alternative, embargoed preregistration controlled by the researchers, addresses those concerns.


There are also a variety of valid reasons why journals and researchers may prefer publication after successful Stage 1 peer review. Four are below:


  1. Publishing accepted registered protocols after successful Stage 1 peer review gives researchers an incentive to progress to Stage 2 and publish their final results with the journal, no matter the outcome.
  2. Publishing accepted registered protocols after successful Stage 1 peer review enables researchers to hold journals to their promise of an "in principle acceptance" irrespective of outcome, after successful Stage 2 peer review.
  3. Publishing accepted registered protocols after successful Stage 1 peer review communicates more rapidly that this innovation in peer review is available for the communities the journals and the researchers are part of. It enables researchers and journals to lead change in positive directions for their communities.
  4. Publishing accepted registered protocols after successful Stage 1 peer review improves the transparency around the provenance of ideas and establishes primacy of research methods and hypotheses prior to realizing results. Again, this enables researchers and journals to lead change in positive directions

After Stage 1 publication, we would expect success in Stage 2 peer review to lead to two legitimate articles about the same study.


The first article, after Stage 1 peer review, would register the study design publicly. It should be written in the future tense to increase clarity about the process.


The second article, after Stage 2 peer review, would describe execution of that study. It may legitimately repeat or summarize methods described in the first article, while citing the stage 1 protocol. It would, like any regular article, also present the study results, analysis, interpretation, limitations, conclusions, and so on per regular reporting guidelines. It would legitimately cite the first article (for example, https://elifesciences.org/articles/17584).


As journals begin to introduce this innovation in peer review, this policy encourages consistency and transparency that is valuable for researchers and journals alike. Editorial independence and autonomy are also important for journals and journals may choose alternative approaches for Registered Reports to best serve the research communities they are part of.


Version 1.0 dated 10 January 2018