No more excuses for non-reproducible methods
ab1630's bookmarks 2018-08-23
"Here’s a one-two punch to spark camaraderie among scientists. First, ask: “How long did it take to get your PhD?” Then follow up with: “How long would it have taken if all your experiments had worked the first or second time?” Part of the probable time difference is due to inexperience, but not all of it. News last month brought a powerful reminder that access to detailed methods can be essential for getting experiments to work. In 2013, the US$1.6-million Reproducibility Project: Cancer Biology set out to repeat key experiments from 50 high-profile cancer papers, and so assess the extent to which published results can be replicated. Instead, the project has decided to stop at 18 papers. One big reason for this was the difficulty of working out what exactly was done in the original experiments. Protocols — precise step-by-step recipes for repeating experiments — are missing from published research more often than not, and even the original researchers can have trouble pinpointing particulars years later....
In 2012, two colleagues and I decided to launch exactly this kind of resource. It turns out that we were far from the first to recognize this need. When my PhD co-adviser realized I was serious about leaving my postdoc to pursue such a project, he connected me with a researcher who had tried something similar a dozen years earlier. That project, BioProtocol.com, raised a million dollars of venture capital to build a protocol repository. This was in the era of flip phones with green-and-black screens, and before online tools and ideals of sharing had surged. The company shut down during the dotcom bust, but the entrepreneurs retained a wealth of experience and insight, which they generously shared. Another venture, Protocol Online, was launched around the same time to organize disparate life-science protocols in a central database. Later efforts include OpenWetWare (a wikipedia-like site for sharing step-by-step protocols) and Protocol Exchange (a preprint server for protocols, hosted by the publisher of Nature)...."