Leading protocols publisher Springer Nature and protocols.io partner to better understand open research practices

Having easy and open access to protocols and methods sits at the heart of reproducibility in open science. According to a PWC study undertaken for the European Commission, duplicating work due to a lack of awareness of existing research or negative results could cost up to €26 billion in Europe alone. Having access to detailed laboratory methods and protocols, and effectively supporting their use, is therefore critical to ensuring research results can be successfully replicated and research time and money not wasted. 

Springer Nature, the world’s leading publisher of protocols, is launching a pilot with open access (OA) protocol and methods repository protocols.io to better understand how protocols are used by researchers in the lab. Using its experience in open protocols and open science more broadly, the pilot will explore how improving the discoverability of protocols and how they are used and reused in experiments, will help to better support researchers and advance open science and research. Springer Nature has a longstanding history of protocols, establishing the longest running methods and protocols series (Methods in Molecular Biology) in 1983, creating Nature Protocol Exchange in 2010, and, via SpringerProtocols, hosts the world’s largest collection of protocols of biomedical and life sciences protocols with more than 2,000 book volumes covering 63,000 protocols & methods.

Robin Padilla. Ph.D., Director of Product Management, Springer Nature Experiments said of the partnership: 

“With our legacy in protocol development, this pilot is a natural step in helping us better understand, and support, changing researcher workflow, needs and practice within the lab. This is an opportunity for open innovation and collaboration. It will have a direct impact on the way in which we explore new formats and ways to improve the quality of documentation, advancing our shared goals of driving forward successful and sustainable open and digital research practice.”

As part of the pilot, Springer Nature will share OA protocols from its SpringerProtocols on the protocols.io platform, where they will be reformatted and enhanced through protocols.io’s features such as lab timers and forking (the process of using the original protocol as a template while you adjust it to your own version). Through the inclusion on protocols.io, a wider group of global researchers will be able to dynamically run through the protocol and/or create their own version, providing more data and a greater insight into how the research process evolves as equipment, practices and resources change.

Across the pilot, usage will be analysed and user feedback collected to enable a better understanding of researcher’s methods, usage and workflow needs.

Lenny Teytelman, CEO and co-founder of protocols.io, said, “We are excited to work together and innovate with Springer Nature. Bringing high quality methods from books to protocols.iohelps the research community and facilitates discussion, revision, optimization, and reuse. Particularly in light of the global pandemic highlighting the importance of rapid and open science, we hope that this partnership will benefit scientists and their research through increased access to dynamic and interactive protocols.”

This partnership complements Springer Nature’s other partnerships and initiatives to help drive innovation in science communication and sharing of content to better address open science, such as that with ResearchGate and Figshare.