As part of our ongoing effort to improve reproducibility in research, eLife has collaborated with Bio-protocol – an online peer-reviewed protocol journal – to make it easier to view and request detailed protocols directly from published articles.
eLife has been working with Bio-protocol since the beginning of 2017. As a result of this collaboration, over 134 papers published in eLife before mid-August 2019 were accompanied with links pointing to detailed methods on the Bio-protocol portal. Launched this month, a new feature on our website is aimed at increasing this number by letting anyone easily request a detailed protocol directly from the “Materials and Methods” section of any article.
"Bio-protocol's vision is to have detailed step-by-step protocols for all life science methods, whether basic or advanced, available and directly linked to the research articles they were used in. The launch of the Request a Protocol service with eLife is a step we are taking to help make our vision a reality," said Fanglian He, Publisher at Bio-protocol.
The information provided by these protocols is very valuable for researchers when trying to reproduce the methods of a paper. However, until recently the process of requesting and linking such a protocol to the research article involved a lot of manual steps by both eLife and Bio-protocol. This month’s enhancement to our journal articles helps to automate the process of data exchange between both parties, and helps researchers request new methods too.
In the “Material and Methods” sections of our research articles, readers will now notice a new blue link underneath the method subsection titles. These prominently placed links will invite you to view a detailed protocol where one exists or will let you easily request a detailed protocol if one is not available yet. The link will be automatically updated when a detailed protocol is made available on Bio-protocol’s website.
For readers looking to request a detailed protocol, the link goes to a new form hosted by Bio-protocol that collects the data needed for the request. The contact details are treated confidentially, meaning the identity of those making the request is not shared with the authors of the article. From the authors’ point of view, having a third party taking care of this process means that they do not need to deal with multiple requests, and readers requesting a protocol will be automatically notified by email once it’s available without any further intervention by the authors.
This relatively small improvement will help save everyone’s time and enable greater reproducibility in research. eLife is the first journal to experiment with this integration with Bio-protocol, but we are willing to help and encourage other journals to promote reproducibility on their own platform by adopting the feature. We are therefore pleased to see that the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is starting a similar collaboration with Bio-protocol.
We welcome comments/questions from researchers as well as other journals. Please annotate publicly on the article or contact us at hello [at] elifesciences [dot] org.