Do Pre-Analysis Plans Hamper Publication?


A critique of pre-analysis plans (PAPs) is that they generate boring, lab-report style papers that are disfavored by reviewers and journal editors, and hence hampered in the publication process. To assess whether this is the case, we compare the publication rates of experimental NBER working papers with and without PAPs. We find that papers with PAPs are, in fact, slightly less likely to be published. However, conditional on being published papers with PAPs are significantly more likely to land in top-5 journals. We also find that journal articles based on pre-registered analyses generate more citations. Our findings suggest that the alleged trade-off between career concerns and the scientific credibility that comes from registering and adhering to a PAP is less stark than is sometimes alleged, and may even tilt in favor of pre-registration for researchers most concerned about publishing in the most prestigious journals and maximizing citations to their work.

AEA Papers and Proceedings