‘Preregistration’ or ‘Registration’?

For years, medicine has urged the ‘registration‘ of clinical trials before data collection starts. More recently, psychology has come to use the term ‘preregistration‘ for this vital component of Open Science. The ‘pre’ puts it in your face that it happens at the start, but should we fall into line and use the long-established term ‘registration’ for consistency and to avoid possible confusion between disciplines? There is already a move in that direction in that some psychology journals are accepting Registered Reports, rather than Pre-.

This recent article makes a spirited argument for consistency:

Rice, D. B., & Moher, D. (2019). Curtailing the use of Preregistration: A misused term. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14, 1105-1108. doi: 10.1177/1745691619858427

Here’s the abstract:

Improving the usability of psychological research has been encouraged through practices such as prospectively registering research plans. Registering research aligns with the open-science movement, as the registration of research protocols in publicly accessible domains can result in reduced research waste and increased study transparency. In medicine and psychology, two different terms, registration and preregistration, have been used to refer to study registration, but applying inconsistent terminology to represent one concept can complicate both educational outreach and epidemiological investigation. Consistently using one term across disciplines to refer to the concept of study registration may improve the understanding and uptake of this practice, thereby supporting the movement toward improving the reliability and reproducibility of research through study registration. We recommend encouraging use of the original term, registration, given its widespread and long-standing use, including in national registries.

Which should we use in ITNS2?

There was a bit of discussion about the issue at the AIMOS Conference, with a range of views presented.

In ITNS we use ‘preregistration’ all through–I’ve been happy with that because the ‘pre-‘ avoids any ambiguity. But what should we use in ITNS2, the second edition we’re just starting to prepare?

No doubt we’ll explain both terms, but my current inclination is to switch and use registration all through. Tomorrow I might think differently. Psychology’s preference may become clearer in coming months.

What do you think? Please comment below or send an email. Thanks!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *