Your scientific enquiry matters as much as the results. Open your science with preregistration.
Reproducibility is the cornerstone of scientific advancement. Help build a foundation for future research.
Share more of your science. Your research question, study design, and results— positive or negative —inform scientific conversation. With preregistration you can define your methodology in advance, holding yourself to the highest standards and providing for the long-term reproducibility of your work.
If you choose to preregister with a journal, you’ll get constructive peer review feedback that can shape your investigation and detect any potential flaws before your work begins. And when your protocol is accepted, you can proceed with confidence knowing that your study will be published regardless of the results.
We see preregistration as an important step toward a more open and transparent peer review process — one that brings with it tremendous benefits for both individual authors and the broader scientific community.
A published protocol or provisional acceptance eliminates the need to submit your completed article to a succession of journals. And that saves everyone — authors, reviewers, and editors — valuable time, so that your research reaches its audience faster.
A publicly posted study design and staged review process transparently showcases the underlying validity of the research.
Stake a Claim
Publishing a study design in a journal or sharing it on a registration service lets you establish priority earlier in the research process and showcase your most current work for review boards and tenure committees.
When research is evaluated based on the validity of the research question and the thoroughness of the study design protocol, you get rewarded for the quality of your science — not the arbitrary perceived impact of the outcomes.
When peer review takes place before you conduct your investigation, the focus of review shifts from gatekeeping to productive feedback aimed at ensuring the best study design possible. Reviewers will no longer request additional experiments after your article is complete!
Increased Likelihood of Acceptance
Publishing your study design protocol or obtaining a provisional accept decision from a journal helps ensure that your research outcomes will go on to be publishable — even if the results aren’t what you hypothesized.
Evaluating the study design rather than the final article precludes some types of subconscious bias. For example:
Authors’ inclination to selectively publish results that seem to support a hypothesis, leaving out negative, null or inconclusive outcomes
The tendency of editors and reviewers to give more credence to results that support their own views or previously published work
The inclination among editors to give novel results more consideration, even though they are not necessarily more valid than expected or confirmatory outcomes
Two PLOS journals — PLOS Biology and PLOS ONE — offer options for the peer review and publication of preregistered research. Each journal takes a slightly different approach, but both options enable the proposed research to be evaluated and recorded before your work is carried out. That way, we make sure results – whatever they may be – are accurately represented.
PLOS Biology Preregistered Research Articles
A single research article written and peer reviewed in two stages.
Authors submit a Stage 1 protocol including the hypothesis, methodology materials and methods sections.
Approved protocols are accepted in-principle on the condition that the study is executed as approved.
Once the study is complete the authors add the results and discussion to their approved Stage 1 protocol to create a single, integrated Preregistered Research Article.
PLOS ONE Registered Reports
Two linked peer reviewed publications–a protocol and a full research article–each with its own unique DOI.
Authors submit a Registered Report Protocol describing the rationale, methodology and any approvals needed for the work.
Accepted protocols are published in the journal immediately, and authors receive an in-principle accept for the future article reporting the results of the study.
Once the study is complete, the authors submit a Registered Report–a full research article describing the study and its findings.