A pre-registration is a time-stamped research plan that researchers can create and upload before conducting a study. The objective of pre-registration is to provide researchers with an overview of ongoing studies in their field and to build research transparency by reducing selective reporting. While pre-registration is commonplace for clinical health trials, its use in development economics is more recent.
- DIME's Research Transparency Standards
- Pre-registration promotes transparency and provides researchers with comprehensive knowledge of current research in their field.
Where can I register?
The American Economic Association (AEA) hosts a trial registry specifically for randomized controlled trials; the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) provides a registry for experimental and quasi-experimental research in developing countries; and Open Science Framework offers a platform for registration and houses registries here.
What information should be included?
The information required for pre-registration typically includes the country and title, a brief description of the project, the timeline, outcomes to measure, sample size, study design, and ethical approval details. Some of the details provided can be uploaded and time stamped but hidden from public view prior to study completion. A pre-analysis plan, which provides a detailed description of how the analysis will be conducted, can also be uploaded, though this is typically not mandatory for pre-registration.
When should I register?
While clinical trials in health are expected to be registered before patient enrolment, there is currently no formal requirement for development economics trials to be registered by a particular stage of the research. In cases where intervention delivery is uncertain, development economics researchers may wait to register their trials until as late as post analysis, as long as the trial is registered at some point.
- American Economic Association, Data and Code Availability Policy
- The Wiley Network, Interview with David Mellor from the Center for Open Science
- Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS), Module on pre-registration and pre-analysis plans by Ted Miguel
- Andrew Foster, Dean Karlan, and Ted Miguel, Registered Reports: Piloting a Pre-Results Review Process at the Journal of Development Economics (JDE)
- J-PAL, Early insights on the Journal of Development Economics (JDE)’s pre-results review by Andrew Foster, Dean Karlan, and Ted Miguel
- Ted Miguel (University of California-Berkeley), Promoting transparency in Economics: Prospects for pre-specifying research hypotheses
- David McKenzie (World Bank) discusses Trying out the new Trial Registries