Protocols are intended to serve as rigorous, step-by-step procedures for fundamental but challenging basic-science experiments, and should describe the materials needed for set-up; all the stages between start and finish, including their timing; and how to analyze the data generated. Word-limits often force authors to compress essential details in their articles into shorthand such as “Briefly, we followed the method of X et al.”. Ideally the Protocol can fill in the gaps and prevent the need for a deep-dive literature search when someone wants to repeat a method developed by another research group.
Cookbooks such as the invaluable Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, aka “Maniatis”, have been the mainstay of molecular biology labs for years, and more recently a number of publishers have begun to compile newer techniques into titles such as Cold Spring Harbor Protocols and the Methods in series.
But since many of these titles commission content by invitation, or require subscription fees for access, we’re hopeful that the Frontiers Protocol article can provide a community-driven and Open Access alternative.
Science typically moves incrementally, as one finding or technological advance prompts another or opens a new line of enquiry. Detailed methods descriptions promote reproducibility and transparency — fundamental principles of open science that Protocols will help to uphold.
More information about the Protocols article can be found at: http://fron.tiers.in/go/gfCkgN
The article types Frontiers publishes are described at: http://fron.tiers.in/go/5znyDL
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