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Changing Norms in Scholarly Publishing

Transparency

A new method of peer review to limit bias in scholarly publishing.

Research yielding unexpected or null results often goes unpublished, even when it applies a rigorous research design and uses high-quality data. As a result, bodies of published literature tend to be comprised of papers that tell “tidy” stories but may not accurately represent the world. Such publication bias can be costly to society as it limits policymakers’ understanding of the full context affecting important decisions.

In response, the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS), CEGA’s open science program, partnered with the Journal of Development Economics (JDE) to pilot pre-results review. This new track for submissions accepts articles on the importance of their research questions and the quality of their research designs before the results are known. Pre-results review aims to reward well-designed and well-executed studies regardless of whether their empirical results yield clear interpretations.

While this form of peer review is gaining traction in social science journals, often under the name of “registered reports,” the JDE was the first to introduce it in Economics. Following a successful pilot, the JDE adopted pre-results review as a permanent track. Learn more about the project, and find the Author Guidelines and other resources here.

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