How OSF Registries are Advancing Childhood Neurocognitive Development Research

As any teacher – or even any parent with more than one child knows – social development in children occurs at different rates and manifests in an enormous variety of personality quirks, particularly when it comes to self-regulation and social competence.


Experts know the development of these skills is driven by an interplay between biological, psychological and environmental processes that affect brain development, but they have never known exactly how these processes interact.

Beginning in 2013, a collaborative project between Utrecht University and the University Medical Hospital Utrecht set out to use a large-scale, multidisciplinary longitudinal study to examine neurocognitive development with a focus on social competence and behavioral control.

The study, dubbed the YOUth Cohort, follows the development of more than 4,000 babies and children from the Utrecht area of the Netherlands – “YOU” stands for Youth of Utrecht – from pregnancy into early adulthood.

The study has already generated a powerful dataset that meets FAIR requirements. It includes diverse data points such as cognitive measurements, (f)MRI imaging, 3-D ultrasounds of the fetal brain, biological materials such as blood and hair samples, a broad collection of questionnaires, and much more.

In order to facilitate the discoverability and sustainability of YOUth data – and increase the transparency and reproducibility of projects using YOUth data – YOUth has partnered with The Center for Open Science (COS) to launch a community-operated registry using COS’s OSF Registries software platform.

The newly-launched YOUth Registry will enable researchers to preregister their proposed project as part of the data request procedure. To access the data, approved researchers will  preregister their study design and analysis plans using one of two custom registration templates available on the registry, one for testing hypotheses, the other for a broader range of studies.

By requiring preregistration, the YOUth Registry ensures new research in child development is transparent and methodologically rigorous, and enables the centralized reporting of outcomes from data reuse in different analyses.


The flexibility of the platform appealed to YOUth Cohort leaders. “The options that the OSF branded registries offer, like moderation of registrations, the use of a tailored registration template, and making all projects using YOUth data visible in one place fit perfectly with our ambitions,” said Dr. Coosje Veldkamp, YOUth Cohort Manager. The collaboration with COS “enables us to pursue our goals as a trailblazer for open science in developmental research,” Veldkamp said.


Nici Pfeiffer, COS’s Chief Product Officer noted, “We are honored to empower and support YOUth Cohort’s vision through our OSF Registries infrastructure.”

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