When reading scientific literature, one of my pet peeves is definitely the methods section. “Plasmid X was described here” – but it wasn’t. “Protein purification was detailed in earlier work” – but you have to go through 10 sequentially cited papers to find the original source. If you’re lucky, you may find what you’re looking for there. That probably sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
As robust, reproducible methods form a cornerstone of reliable science, we fully embrace new initiatives like protocols.io, where anyone can upload and share their protocols.
To not only say that we like science to be reproducible, but to practise what we preach, we just uploaded one of our favorite protocols which always works – at least on HEK293T cells! Look and behold, a precise calcium phosphate transfection protocol. Descriptions for this in articles are usually limited to “we used the calcium phosphate transfection method to [….]”.
Protocols uploaded onto protocols.io can get a DOI, so in our next manuscript we can now actually state that “we used the calcium phosphate transfection method as described in detail here (REF)”. Implying that we need to write out our protocols once and can refer to them in all publications to follow, especially protocols that have stood the test of time like this one! It might be a bit trickier for protocols which are subject to frequent change, as adding a DOI prevents further changes.
As COVID19 seems to be moving towards a third wave here in Europe, uploading some more protocols could be our next lockdown project, now that we’ve finished writing the review that formed our first lockdown project…
[EDIT] It’s actually also useful for protocols that are being developed. Here is for example one that’s currently at version 8!