Having a clear and detailed methods section in research journal articles is one the most effective approaches to improve research reproducibility. Reproducibility is a focus of open research as a means to improve scientific practice and reduce inefficiencies created by the inability to recreate previously performed research. The University of California is dedicated to providing resources to help improve research, and is funding a three-year pilot of the protocols.io platform for developing and sharing research methods.
What is protocols.io?
protocols.io is a platform for documenting clinical and scientific research methods and protocols in all subjects, computational workflows, operational procedures, and safety checklists. It is an open repository of over 5000 publicly shared protocols with interactive commenting, as well as a platform for creating and storing private protocols and for collaborating with groups. Protocols can be run and customized within the program, enabling step-by-step checks, notes, and modifications as the experiment is run.
UC’s subscription, paid for by the California Digital Library, increases the options available to UC users compared to the free individual account. Features of the premium plan include:
- Unlimited number of groups and members
- Unlimited private protocols for individuals and groups
- 1 GB storage for individuals; 10 GB storage for groups
- Enhanced team administration
- Premium technical support
All individuals can create an unlimited number of public protocols, which are published under an open access Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Groups created by UC staff can include non-UC members.
To get started, create an account at protocols.io using your UC Davis email address to take advantage of the UC premium account features. If you sign up with a non-UC account, go to your user profile once logged in and click on “Upgrade”. Select UC Davis from the dropdown list of universities, then verify your account by providing your UC Davis email address.
Online help guides and webinar tutorials are available, including an introduction for the UC community. Group training can also be arranged. The pilot, introduced in June, runs for three years, through May 31, 2022.