Is Preregistration Worthwhile?

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Proponents of preregistration argue that, among other benefits, it improves the diagnosticity of statistical tests. In the strong version of this argument, preregistration does this by solving statistical problems, such as family-wise error rates. In the weak version, it nudges people to think more deeply about their theories, methods, and analyses. We argue against both: the diagnosticity of statistical tests depend entirely on how well statistical models map onto underlying theories, and so improving statistical techniques does little to improve theories when the mapping is weak. There is also little reason to expect that preregistration will spontaneously help researchers to develop better theories (and, hence, better methods and analyses).

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