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Moving Sport and Exercise Science Forward: A Call for the Adoption of More Transparent Research Practices

Abstract

The primary means of disseminating sport and exercise science research is currently through journal articles. However, not all studies, especially those with null findings, make it to formal publication. This publication bias towards positive findings may contribute to questionable research practices. Preregistration is a solution to prevent the publication of distorted evidence resulting from this system. This process asks authors to register their hypotheses and methods before data collection on a publicly available repository or by submitting a Registered Report. In the Registered Report format, authors submit a stage 1 manuscript to a participating journal that includes an introduction, methods, and any pilot data indicating the exploratory or confirmatory nature of the study. After a stage 1 peer review, the manuscript can then be offered in-principle acceptance, rejected, or sent back for revisions to improve the quality of the study. If accepted, the project is guaranteed publication, assuming the authors follow the data collection and analysis protocol. After data collection, authors re-submit a stage 2 manuscript that includes the results and discussion, and the study is evaluated on clarity and conformity with the planned analysis. In its final form, Registered Reports appear almost identical to a typical publication, but give readers confidence that the hypotheses and main analyses are less susceptible to bias from questionable research practices. From this perspective, we argue that inclusion of Registered Reports by researchers and journals will improve the transparency, replicability, and trust in sport and exercise science research. The preprint version of this work is available on SportR\(\chi \)iv: https://osf.io/preprints/sportrxiv/fxe7a/.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The reviewers find that the research question makes some meaningful contribution to the field and that the proposed methods are sound.

  2. 2.

    While Registered Reports are not meant to replace the current publishing approach, this would be partly appreciated. Such a transition would make the literature homogeneously more rigorous and transparent, properties that are at the heart of good science. This transition would ultimately allow readers of both original studies and meta-analyses to know that the findings have much less bias than they would in a traditional publishing format.

  3. 3.

    Registered Reports are only one step in a long process for improving sport and exercise science research. In fact, from the email thread used during the creation of this paper, the Society for Transparency, Openness, and Reproducibility in Kinesiology (STORK, http://storkinesiology.org/) was formed to help address these issues.

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Acknowledgements

This paper is dedicated to the memory of our co-author Rémi Radel, who unfortunately passed away before this paper reached final publication. Without his dedication, support, and insight, this manuscript would not have been possible. Furthermore, we would like to thank Dr. Matthew Cramer, who provided feedback early on in the writing of this manuscript. We would like to acknowledge the following individuals for their contributions: Ian Boardley (School of Sport, Exercise, & Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, USA), Brooke Bouza (Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Fayetteville, AR, USA), Boris Cheval (Department of Psychology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland), Zad Rafi Chow (Department of Population Health, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA), Bret Contreras (Sport Performance Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NZ), Brad Dieter (Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA; Providence Medical Research Center, Providence Health Care, Spokane, WA, USA), Israel Halperin (School of Public Health, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel; Sylvan Adams Sports Institute, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel), Cody Haun (Department of Exercise Science, LaGrange College, LaGrange, GA, USA), Duane Knudson (Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA), Johan Lahti (Laboratoire LAMHESS, Universite Côte d'Azur, Nice, France), Keith Lohse (Department of Health, Kinesiology, & Recreation; Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training; University of Utah, 250 S 1850 E, Room 258, Salt lake City, Utah, 84112), Matthew Miller (School of Kinesiology and Center for Neuroscience, Auburn University, Auburn, AL, USA), Jean-Benoit Morin (Laboratoire LAMHESS, Universite Côte d'Azur, Nice, France), Mitchell Naughton (University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia), Jason Neva (Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), Greg Nuckols (Sport and Exercise Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA), David Nunan (Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Science, Woodstock Road, Oxford), Sue Peters (Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), Brandon Roberts (Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, University of Birmingham at Alabama, Birmingham, AL, USA), Megan Rosa-Caldwell (Exercise Science Research Center, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, Fayetteville, AR, USA), Julia Schmidt (Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Department of Occupational Therapy, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia), Brad J. Schoenfeld (Health Sciences Department, CUNY Lehman College, Bronx, NY, USA), Richard Severin (Department of Physical Therapy, The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA), Jakob Škarabot (Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK), James Steele (ukactive Research Institute, London, UK; School of Sport, Health, and Social Sciences, Solent University, Southampton, UK), Rosie Twomey (Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada), and Zachary Zenko (Department of Kinesiology, California State University Bakersfield, Bakersfield, CA, USA).

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ARC and ADV devised and lead the writing of this manuscript. The co-authors participated in the brainstorming, drafting and editing, or supported the initiatives included within the manuscript. Author order—except for ARC and ADV—was determined via randomization, as per majority vote. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has four requirements for authorship that pertain to this manuscript, which will be used to acknowledge individual contributions: (1) substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and (2) drafting the work or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and (3) final approval of the version to be published; and (4) agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. This manuscript was preprinted and submitted to sports medicine with more authors. However, not all of those authors met the ICMJE guidelines for authorship, thus, the contributions of individuals who did and did not meet authorship guidelines are acknowledged below. All authors—ARC, ADV, MST, RR, DTM, AK, IML, JPM, MPB—made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content, provided final approval of the version to be published, and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Correspondence to Andrew D. Vigotsky.

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No financial support was received for the preparation or publication of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

Aaron R. Caldwell is the current Steering Chair for the preprint server SportR\(\chi \)v, and is on the board for the Society for Transparency, Openness, and Replication in Kinesiology (STORK). David T. Mellor is an employee of the Center for Open Science, a nonprofit organization whose mission includes advocating for increased transparency in scientific research, which includes the Registered Reports format. John P. Mills is the founder of SportR\(\chi \)xiv and the Executive Chair of STORK and Ian M. Lahart is the Editor of Physiology and Nutrition section of Registered Reports in Kinesiology. All other authors—Andrew D. Vigotsky, Matthew S. Tenan, Rémi Radel, Andreas Kreutzer, and Matthieu P. Boisgontier—have no conflicts of interest to declare. No financial support was received for the preparation or publication of this manuscript.

Collaborators

Ian Boardley, Brooke Bouza, Boris Cheval, Zad Rafi Chow, Bret Contreras, Brad Dieter, Israel Halperin, Cody Haun, Duane Knudson, Johan Lahti, Matthew Miller, Jean-Benoit Morin, Mitchell Naughton, Jason Neva, Greg Nuckols, Sue Peters, Brandon Roberts, Megan Rosa-Caldwell, Julia Schmidt, Brad J. Schoenfeld, Richard Severin, Jakob Skarabot, James Steele, Rosie Twomey, Zachary Zenko, Keith Lohse, and David Nunan

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The members of the “Consortium for Transparency in Exercise Science” (COTES) are listed as ‘Collaborators’ at the end of this article.

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Caldwell, A.R., Vigotsky, A.D., Tenan, M.S. et al. Moving Sport and Exercise Science Forward: A Call for the Adoption of More Transparent Research Practices. Sports Med 50, 449–459 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01227-1

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