Research protocols are like good old recipes, they contain time-tested knowledge, and their secrets are not shared with anybody. However, due to the complexity of today’s experiments, it has become more important than ever for scientists to find and use the best protocols available. New “omics” technologies require precise and controlled sample preparation, and the smallest variation can lead to huge differences in the resulting output.
The need for protocol repositories
The “big data” has fostered the development of a number of repositories, for bioinformatics tools (OMICtools), software codes (GitHub), and peer-reviewed journals dedicated to protocols (Nature Protocols, JOVE).
Following this trend, a number of initiative propose to store and reference research protocols on so-called protocol repositories. These repositories share common features: they follow a collaborative and community model, and they are open-access. Here are some protocol repositories that might help you find the best protocol for your experiments.
Protocols.io is an online repository for scientific protocols that can be used at any point in the research cycle, before publication to be shared and run easily and in total confidentiality and/or during the manuscript submission process, as an alternative to the online Material & Methods section. Protocols.io is runnable as an iOS and Android application, and as already partnered with the journals Genetics and GigaScience to share protocols via the service instead of supplementary files.
To learn more, here is a video presentation of protocols.io: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=wvqw6PPl0eY
The Protocol Exchange is an open resource from the journal Nature Protocols, where the community of scientists pool their experimental know-how. Users can discover new protocols, share a protocol, join a lab group, comment on protocols, and organize their favorite and personalize their experience.
Protocols added to protocol exchange are standardized and usually include the following section: Introduction, reagents and equipment, procedure and timing, troubleshooting, and anticipated results/figures.
The database contains protocols from any branch of science with a focus on protocols being used to answer outstanding biological and biomedical science research questions.
OpenWetWare is an effort to promote the sharing of information, know-how, and wisdom among researchers and groups who are working in biology & biological engineering. This website is a wiki that proposes to browse labs and groups around the world, to link to biology courses, protocols, and blogs to share all things related to biological sciences.
OWW also developed an online Lab Notebook where users can create dynamic calendars, create projects, etc.
So if you come up with a new protocol and you feel it could benefit the scientific community, don’t hesitate to use one of these useful repositories to make science go forward!