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      The preregistration revolution

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          Abstract

          <p class="first" id="d13251031e204">Progress in science relies in part on generating hypotheses with existing observations and testing hypotheses with new observations. This distinction between postdiction and prediction is appreciated conceptually but is not respected in practice. Mistaking generation of postdictions with testing of predictions reduces the credibility of research findings. However, ordinary biases in human reasoning, such as hindsight bias, make it hard to avoid this mistake. An effective solution is to define the research questions and analysis plan before observing the research outcomes—a process called preregistration. Preregistration distinguishes analyses and outcomes that result from predictions from those that result from postdictions. A variety of practical strategies are available to make the best possible use of preregistration in circumstances that fall short of the ideal application, such as when the data are preexisting. Services are now available for preregistration across all disciplines, facilitating a rapid increase in the practice. Widespread adoption of preregistration will increase distinctiveness between hypothesis generation and hypothesis testing and will improve the credibility of research findings. </p>

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          Most cited references35

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          The ASA's Statement onp-Values: Context, Process, and Purpose

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            Strong Inference: Certain systematic methods of scientific thinking may produce much more rapid progress than others.

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              An Agenda for Purely Confirmatory Research.

              The veracity of substantive research claims hinges on the way experimental data are collected and analyzed. In this article, we discuss an uncomfortable fact that threatens the core of psychology's academic enterprise: almost without exception, psychologists do not commit themselves to a method of data analysis before they see the actual data. It then becomes tempting to fine tune the analysis to the data in order to obtain a desired result-a procedure that invalidates the interpretation of the common statistical tests. The extent of the fine tuning varies widely across experiments and experimenters but is almost impossible for reviewers and readers to gauge. To remedy the situation, we propose that researchers preregister their studies and indicate in advance the analyses they intend to conduct. Only these analyses deserve the label "confirmatory," and only for these analyses are the common statistical tests valid. Other analyses can be carried out but these should be labeled "exploratory." We illustrate our proposal with a confirmatory replication attempt of a study on extrasensory perception.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                March 13 2018
                March 13 2018
                : 115
                : 11
                : 2600-2606
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1708274114
                5856500
                29531091
                1ade547f-8d6b-4b78-951b-8dd7c1c249ad
                © 2018

                http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/userlicense.xhtml


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