Behavior change is difficult—just ask any psychologist. A new study shows behavior change among psychologists is no different. Efforts to improve the robustness of research by asking psychologists to state their methods and goals ahead of time, a process called preregistration, have stumbled at the first hurdle.
“Preregistration is not as easy as it may seem,” says Aline Claesen, a psychologist at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium. She and her colleagues examined 27 preregistration plans filed by psychologists from February 2015, when the journal Psychological Science started to offer badges for preregistered studies, to November 2017. In every case, her team reports this month in a preprint on the PsyArXiv server, the researchers deviated from their plan—and in every paper but one, they did not fully disclose these deviations.
“I was totally surprised by how many of these [changes] were undisclosed,” says Wolf Vanpaemel, a psychologist on the KU Leuven team. “There’s no good excuse for not transparently indicating all changes you made.”
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