Improving evidence-based practice through preregistration of applied research: Barriers and recommendations

Thomas Rhys Evans*, Peter Branney, Andrew Clements, Ella Hatton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Preregistration is the practice of publicly publishing plans on central components of the research process before access to, or collection, of data. Within the context of the replication crisis, open science practices like preregistration have been pivotal in facilitating greater transparency in research. However, such practices have been applied nearly exclusively to basic academic research, with rare consideration of the relevance to applied and consultancy-based research. This is particularly problematic as such research is typically reported with very low levels of transparency and accountability despite being disseminated as influential gray literature to inform practice. Evidence-based practice is best served by an appreciation of multiple sources of quality evidence, thus the current review considers the potential of preregistration to improve both the accessibility and credibility of applied research toward more rigorous evidence-based practice. The current three-part review outlines, first, the opportunities of preregistration for applied research, and second, three barriers–practical challenges, stakeholder roles, and the suitability of preregistration. Last, this review makes four recommendations to overcome these barriers and maximize the opportunities of preregistration for academics, industry, and the structures they are held within–changes to preregistration templates, new types of templates, education and training, and recognition and structural changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-108
Number of pages21
JournalAccountability in Research
Issue number2
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The current manuscript was first scoped out in a session on preregistration of applied research during a United Kingdom Open Science Working Group (UKOSWG) meeting. Our thanks go to all individuals in this session who contributed to the discussions that informed the current manuscript but chose not to be involved with the current publication. We also wish to express our gratitude to Dr Madeleine Pownall (ORCID: 0000-0002-3734-8006) and one anonymous reviewer, who provided detailed and insightful comments that helped improve the content and quality of discussion.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • accountability
  • Applied research
  • gray literature
  • open science
  • preregistration
  • transparency


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