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How can I preregister a study?

In a preregistration, you record your intentions regarding data collection and analysis. This clearly documents which ideas were specified in advance. When you choose to preregister, your choices come down to the format of the preregistration (especially the amount of detail and whether you use a pre-defined template) and the place where it is archived.

Format

In principle, the format of your preregistration is arbitrary as long as it states your plans clearly. Similarly, it need not be long, but any additional detail will help you prove that you followed a confirmatory research strategy. In practice, templates with pre-specified questions and prompts (as opposed to an open-ended, narrative preregistration) can help guide you through the process and make sure all critical questions are addressed.

The Open Science Framework has collected pre-made documents for each of these templates.

Archive

As with the format, where you put your preregistration is up to you. A piece of paper in your desk drawer on which you sketched your hypotheses can be helpful, however, your preregistration becomes more convincing if a third party can vouch for the specific date on which you fixed your pre-registration (Corker, 2017, discusses different degrees of public commitment).

If you are using a service that archives files and records changes such as FigShare or Zenodo, you can pre-register by uploading your document to a public or private repository. Some services additionally simplify the process by providing a form and generating a record from your responses: