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Okay scientists. I get asked a lot about the Stage 1 review delay for Registered Reports. You're all quite reasonably concerned about waiting 2-4 months to start your research in order to get Stage 1 in-principle acceptance, or "IPA" as I'll call it for the rest of this thread /1
In this thread I want to offer some tips for how you can keep this time as short as possible, based on my editorial experience: RR editor at 6 journals currently, have edited about 150 RRs /2
First thing to say: in general, if you or your student don’t have time to complete the research through a RR route (given a 2-4 mth review time), you probably don’t have time to do the research at all & you should do something else. More in that here: /3
But let’s assume you’ve decided to proceed. What can you do to make the Stage 1 review process as efficient and constructive as possible? /4
1. The first & most important thing is to get your manuscript match-ready. Here are the top 10 reasons IME Stage 1 RRs get desk rejected. Problems are usually fixable & you'll get a revise invitation, but it will cost you at least 1-2 weeks, probably more. Nail them IN ADVANCE.
2. If you are under a special time pressure, contact the editor in advance while you’re writing. Explain your circs. Ask for info re their avg Stage 1 RR handling times *not counting the time taken by authors to revise* (which is in your hands). Decide if the journal is for you.
3. When submitting, be sure to make lots of suggestions for reviewers. At least 10. If the manuscript handling system doesn’t have a place for them, put them in the cover letter. Suggest independent scientists that you have no (or minimal) links with.
3 (cont). When recommending reviewers, suggest mid-career or early-career researchers (postdoc level & up as not all eds are happy inviting PhD students). In general, ECRs provide faster & better quality reviews than profs & finding reviewers is a major cause of editorial delay.
4. Once it’s under review, don’t hesitate to pester the journal admin and action editor about progress if you feel it is all taking too long. Be polite but firm. Re-explain your circs. Editors often handle a lot of submissions & the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
5. Traditional pre-pub peer review is limiting for RRs b/c starting data collection BEFORE Stage 1 acceptance will void your submission. So consider the post-publication peer review (PPPR) model of RRs offered by @F1000Research and others.
5. (cont). With PPPR RRs, *you* can set the timeline – if the journal can’t get peer reviews back in time, just prereg the protocol yourself, proceed w/ the work, inform the journal, & it will fall out of the RR track to be considered as a regular submission (albeit prereg'd).
6. Finally, when you get the reviews back, deal with them v promptly & respond while the paper is fresh in the minds of the reviewers. If revs don't have to re-read everything to remind themselves what your paper is about, you'll sail thru much quicker.

Good luck! /end
A postscript to this thread. Some people are misunderstanding tweet /3 so I made a slide to explain in more detail.
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