"Digital information carries a significant risk of disappearing, as one of the “fathers of the Internet” Vint Cerf has been
. This is particularly problematic for research communication as vanishing records undermine the reproducibility and integrity of science. We have taken this concern seriously at protocols.io from day one, constantly aiming for better ways to ensure stability, preservation, and visibility of the methods and knowledge shared on our platform. Digital archiving solutions have been the center of our focus; however, today we are excited to share with you our new physical preservation initiative, guaranteeing zero loss, long into the future. We are thrilled to be joined by the Addgene plasmid repository and the Public Library of Science (PLOS) in this initiative.
Of course, for many years we at protocols.io have had public APIs and PDF export of all protocols. In 2016, we became a
of CLOCKSS (the digital preservation archive for scholarly content, started by Stanford librarians in 1999), sending a PDF copy of every new protocol to them, the second it is made public. More recently, we introduced integration with Dropbox and GoogleDrive, to facilitate individual backups.
While all of our efforts are reasonable and ensure preservation and accessibility for decades, they are not infallible solutions in the long run. This is because preservation and accessibility are not the same thing. How many people today can open a file from 1997 WordPerfect or 1999 PowerPoint, particularly if it has been saved on a floppy disk? How confident are we that PDFs of protocols will be accessible and readable in seventy years by the scientists of the future?
With the above concerns in mind, we have been exploring over the last year more reliable solutions that take advantage of modern technology. And so, we are excited to announce a partnership with
for low-cost physical preservation of protocols, using laser cutters. The PLOS editorial team will be in charge of selecting protocols that warrant physical preservation and Addgene, with their expertise in physical storage, will be handling the long-term archiving in their freezers...."