Generalized Systematic Review Template Joins OSF Registries

April 20th, 2023,
Text: Generalized Systematic Review Template Joins OSF Registries with screenshot of registration template

Researchers, no matter their discipline or study design, can use OSF to (pre)register their research. Registration refers to archiving one’s study design and outputs (e.g., data or analysis code) so that this information is immutable and persistently available in a public repository. Currently, over 126,000 registrations are archived and publicly available on OSF Registries with more than 453,000 indexed from other community registries. To help researchers register rigorous, reproducible study designs, several registration templates have been implemented on OSF. But as OSF’s user base has continued to grow, the community’s need to archive systematic reviews has become apparent.

You’ve been heard.

We are proud to now announce the launch of the Generalized Systematic Review Registration template. Like the existing secondary and qualitative analysis templates, the OSF team worked hand-in-hand with community creators to implement a discipline-agnostic template to fit the need for the registration of systematic reviews. Go check the new template out by creating a new registration or viewing a downloadable copy.

Or, continue reading to learn more about this template’s journey.

The need to archive systematic reviews is not new. In fact, researchers and open science advocates have been developing their own systematic review registration forms and archived documents to compensate for this gap for some time. A group of these researchers connected through social media, institutional connections, and the SIPS 2019 Conference to combine their individual efforts into a single template that would be available for the greater scientific community.

This new template aimed to fill critical gaps that templates in other registries did not address. First, the team ensured the new template aligned with well established reporting guidelines (e.g., PRISMA) so that researchers can continue to abide by the rigorous standards of their communities. Second, the team placed open science best practices at the forefront by focusing on accurate and comprehensive documentation before data was collected (i.e., preregistration). While remaining discipline agnostic, the new template focuses on improving rigor and credibility by challenging research teams to think through study details. Their initial template titled “Generalized Systematic Review Registration Form” was published in 2020 as a preprint on MetaArXiv.

Over the next couple of years, the need for a systematic review template on OSF rapidly grew. The OSF team contacted the first two authors of the preprint, Olmo van den Akker and Gjalt-Jorn Ygram Peters, for permission to modify the template to align it with the OSF infrastructure and for the resulting template to be made publicly available on OSF for all to use. The two authors agreed. First, the template was refined to reflect recent developments in the scientific community and align it with the OSF infrastructure. These changes included recent guideline changes and adjusting questions so they fit with how they would be presented on OSF Registries.

Photo of Olmo van den Akker with quote: The development of this template and its subsequent launch on the OSF is a great example of what can be achieved with a collaborative mindset. It was very nice to work together with other researchers that all have the common goal of improving science. I hope that this template will be the first of many community-driven preregistration templates.

Next, the authors and OSF team held a community call with experts from the greater scientific community to show the proposed template and elicit feedback to improve the template’s generalizability across disciplines, and enhance its usability. After digesting the feedback, the authors and OSF team polished the template further, and the end result is now available for all OSF users.

Now that you’ve read its story, go check it out by creating a new registration or viewing a downloadable copy.

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