Is pre-registration a proposal aimed at reducing bias/QRPs? Arguably yes, but I don’t think that’s how we should think of it.

(Note: this was inspired by one sentence taken slightly out of context of @annemscheel et al.’s preprint: )
I’ve argued before that we should think of the credibility revolution as having two components: transparency & quality control.
Transparency makes quality control possible, but it is not the same thing. You can do transparent, shoddy research (
To my mind, pre-registration is clearly a transparency-enhancing reform. It makes it possible for authors to document what was planned/timing of decisions in a way that is verifiable to readers, and therefore makes it possible for readers to calibrate their confidence.
Yes, pre-registration makes quality control more possible, and it hopefully has the side effect of reducing bias/QRPs on authors’ part to begin with, but pre-reg doesn’t necessarily increase quality or reduce bias. That’s not the main point. The main point is transparency.
The danger in saying that “pre-registration enhances quality” or “reduces bias” is that then, a researcher will earnestly pre-register, and then may assume that they couldn’t possibly have let bias creep in and will he shocked & upset if critics suggest possibility of bias.
So I think we should reframe pre-registration. It might help reduce bias, but the goal is transparency - documenting things that matter (e.g., timing of certain decisions) and making them verifiable. That might actually bring out *more* evidence of bias. That’s the point.
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