Registered Reports and Protocols

What is a Registered Report?

Registered Reports are a form of empirical article in which the methods and proposed analyses are registered and reviewed prior to research being conducted. This format is designed to minimise bias in deductive science, while also allowing complete flexibility to conduct exploratory (unregistered) analyses and report serendipitous findings.

The publication and review process for Registered Reports consists of two stages. Stage 1 involves the study protocol undergoing peer review before research is undertaken. This means a significant part of the manuscript will be assessed prior to data collection, with the highest quality submissions accepted in advance. Stage 2 involves the full manuscript being re-reviewed to ensure that authors followed the approved protocol and that the conclusions are based on the evidence.

Successfully reviewed Stage 1 submissions will receive an in-principle acceptance (IPA) for the Stage 2 manuscript; meaning that if the study is carried out as described in the Stage 1 paper, the Stage 2 will be accepted regardless of the results.

Read more about how to submit a Registered Report to BMJ Open Science.

Benefits of publishing a Registered Report

  • Reduces publication bias as work is assessed against scientific and ethical criteria only and not judged for novelty or impact
  • Enhances the robustness and reproducibility of a study as protocols are reviewed earlier on in the research process
  • More clarity for authors as feedback is given before data collection, allowing authors to refine their experimental design which can speed up publication of the full manuscript

What is a Protocol?

Study protocols provide a documented record of a researcher’s plan of action, detailing in advance a study’s rationale, methodology and analyses. Publication of study protocols ensures greater transparency in the research process and protects the wider community against a number of damaging research practices. Protocol manuscripts report on planned or ongoing research studies. Protocols are peer-reviewed before data collection completes.

BMJ Open Science will consider protocols for any study design, including observational studies and systematic reviews. Read more about the guidelines for submitting a Protocol.

Benefits of publishing a Protocol

  • Keeps researchers and funding bodies up-to-date in their fields
  • Gives exposure to research activity that otherwise may not get publicised
  • Enables more collaboration in the research community
  • Prevents unnecessary duplication of work
  • Increases transparency by making more information available than required by trial registries
  • Gives others the opportunity to see and understand deviations that occur during the study

Why publish your Registered Report or Protocol with BMJ Open Science?

  • Impact: Your protocol will be published as a separate citable item, and allows you to stake your claim to your ideas earlier.
  • Prestige: The journal is instantly recognised through the BMJ brand making it a credible source of high-quality content.
  • Quality Assurance: Our dedicated Editor-in-Chief and international editorial team use their years of experience and expertise to ensure expert feedback on your proposed methods. This allows you to address methodological issues before data collection, improving the experimental design.
  • Open Peer Review: Reviews of published protocols will be posted online alongside the protocol. This supports transparency by giving everyone access to the feedback and enables you to openly address any issues raised by the reviewers.