The Public Library of Science (PLOS) and protocols.io have announced an extension to their partnership to support increased sharing of open research methodologies. In early 2021 PLOS is launching two new peer-reviewed article types in PLOS ONE: Lab Protocols and Study Protocols.
The new article types are intended to address three issues familiar to researchers: the rigor and reproducibility of research, efficiency in getting feedback, and recognition for developing and sharing diverse research contributions.
Lab Protocols have been developed in close collaboration with researchers and the protocols.io team. They describe verified, reusable methodologies including computational techniques, and consist of two interlinked components: step-by-step protocol posted to protocols.io, and a peer-reviewed PLOS ONE article contextualising the protocol.
Study Protocols are established article type that allows researchers to share detailed plans and proposals for funded research projects that have not yet generated results.
Both Lab Protocols and Study Protocols will be open to research in all fields of study within PLOS ONE’s inclusive scope.
Many researchers share Lab Protocols informally with peers and, in PLOS’ work to better understand researcher needs, PLOS realised that a motivation for sharing protocols is to seek feedback to improve them. The importance of methods development and sharing also deserves increased recognition, via a peer-reviewed publication. Understanding the exquisite details that make methods work is also essential for reproducibility and for accelerating science. Researchers who develop methods, especially those early in their careers, deserve more recognition than a footnote in a research article.
Study Protocols are important for improving rigor and transparency by sharing a study’s design, recruitment and analysis plans before research has been carried-out. This practice is especially important — and already common — in healthcare research, including systematic reviews. Study Protocols complement PLOS’ offering of Registered Reports. Researchers are not required to submit the results of their Study Protocol to the same journal, which provides more researchers with Open Access options to share their peer-reviewed research plans.
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