Why does AsPredicted allow Pre-Registrations to remain private forever?
Requiring that all pre-registrations (eventually) become public makes pre-registering less appealing to authors. In an environment where authors need to voluntarily pre-register, this reduces the number of studies that will be pre-registered. That's the cost. There are two potential benefits:
1. Mitigating the file-drawer problem by allowing the scientific community to observe studies that authors would otherwise choose not to make public after seeing the results.
2. Preventing authors from pre-registering many alternative plans for the same study and making public only the one that's consistent with the result to be published.
The first benefit is unlikely to materialize because to actually help combat the file-drawer problem authors need not only commit to telling us that a study was performed, they need to commit to reporting the result and describing the study in enough details that its quality can be assessed and the study can be easily found. The ClinicalTrials.gov experience suggests the first two requirements are unlikely to be met. A year after being completed, about 90% of studies do not have the results uploaded to the database (Anderson 2015). When the posting results is 'mandatory,' still most pre-registrations do not have results posted (Prayle, Hurley, & Smyth, 2012). And when results are uploaded, they are often incomplete and even inconsistent with those included in published research (Becker & Ross, 2014).
The pre-registration of alternative plans for the same study can be handled through other means, including system design that prevents abuse, and algorithms that detect it. AsPredicted.org includes both types of protection.
This cost-benefit calculation is behind the decision to allow pre-registrations to remain private.
Anderson, M. L., Chiswell, K., Peterson, E. D., Tasneem, A., Topping, J., & Califf, R. M. (2015). Compliance with results reporting at ClinicalTrials.gov. New England Journal of Medicine, 372(11), 1031-1039.
Becker, J. E., & Ross, J. S. (2014). Reporting Discrepancies Between the ClinicalTrials.gov Results Database and Peer-Reviewed Publications. Annals of internal medicine, 161(10), 760.
Prayle, A. P., Hurley, M. N., & Smyth, A. R. (2012). Compliance with mandatory reporting of clinical trial results on ClinicalTrials.gov: cross sectional study. BMJ, 344, d7373.