Simplifying the Preregistration Process

A preregistration of your research can seem daunting, but it's essentially about clearly documenting your research plan before you start your data collection. By documenting the details of your study plan, and eventually sharing a timestamp of when you created this research plan, you can transparently match your initial data collection plan with the corresponding resulting data and conclusions. This process is a commitment to transparency of research and helps increase the credibility of your research study. Here's a straightforward way to approach it

Before we start:

It's important to note that any responses added to a registration template can be updated later with a clear timestamp for each update. So it is more important to update later and document how to get your idea "right", rather than be "right" at your first preregistration submission. Files on a registration are not currently updatable so use the templates to your advantage!

Break Down Your Research Plan into Simple Steps

  1. Start with Your Research Questions
    • What are you trying to find out? Write down your main research question(s) in simple language.
    • Think about what you're curious about and what you hope to discover through your study.
  2. Describe Your Methods
    • How will you find your answers? In plain terms, explain how you plan to conduct your research. This includes the type of study you're doing (e.g., experiment, survey), how you'll collect data, and the tools or instruments you'll use (like questionnaires).
  3. Define Your Data
    • What data will you collect? List the kinds of data you need to answer your research questions. For example, if you're studying the effects of a new teaching method, your data might include test scores, student feedback, and classroom observations.
  4. Plan Your Analysis
    • How will you make sense of your data? Describe, in simple terms, what you'll do with your data once you have it. This could be as straightforward as comparing before-and-after scores or looking for patterns in survey responses.
  5. Set Your Rules
    • What counts as evidence? Decide in advance what results would support your hypotheses or answer your research questions. This helps avoid bias in interpreting your results.

Tips to Document Preregistrations on OSF:

  • Choose your Registration Template: The OSF provides a variety of user-friendly template for preregistration. Once you choose an applicable template for your study, you can fill it out by answering questions that mirror the steps above. Each template is designed to guide you through detailing your research plan in a structured way.
  • Keep It Simple: You don't need to use complex academic jargon. The goal is clarity. Write as if explaining your plan to someone not in your field. This makes your research more accessible and easier to understand.
  • Review and Submit: Once you've completed the form, review your responses to ensure they accurately reflect your research plan. Then, submit your preregistration. It will receive a time stamp, signaling your commitment to conducting and reporting your research transparently.


Preregistration is not about locking you into a rigid plan. It's about clarity, transparency, and intentionality in research. If things change (as they often do in research), you can update any information in the preregistration template (Not attached files) and you can always acknowledge deviations from your original plan when you publish your results. The key is to document the rationale behind any significant changes. This openness is at the heart of advancing scientific knowledge responsibly and credibly.

Want to Know More?

For more information and other OSF tips and tricks please see Our Support Guides, or contact OSF Support for more information.

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