Open Methods chart the way
Complete, detailed methods contextualize results, subvert bias, enhance reproducibility, and increase efficiency across the entire scientific ecosystem.
Methods are research artifacts with intrinsic value to the scientific community. Open methods advance research integrity, understanding, reproducibility and reuse. Sharing more research more broadly creates new opportunities for progress.
Why methods matter
Transparency creates trust and deepens understanding.
When readers have the opportunity to examine your approach in detail, they gain a more profound, contextualized understanding of the results, and increased respect for the integrity of the work.
Reproducibility relies on detail.
A narrative summary in the methods section of a research article is often insufficient to reproduce results or adapt a methodology to another study. Detailed open methods facilitate replication and reuse, and reduce the amount of trial and error along the way.
Methods transcend barriers.
Methods have the potential for adaptation and reuse in different contexts and across a broad range of research questions and disciplines. For that reason, methods articles tend to be highly cited, and to attract readers and citations for a longer period than standard research articles.
Publishing open methods with PLOS
Shared methods can take many forms, including protocols, code, materials and reagents, and more. Whatever your approach, making methods publicly accessible inspires trust, facilitates reproducibility and reuse, and helps to keep your work relevant. Discover your options for communicating methods with PLOS.
You have options for publishing your methods in PLOS ONE.
Choose the one that’s right for you.
|Registered Report||Study Protocol||Research Article||Lab Protocol|
|What is it?||Two peer-reviewed publications–a protocol and a full research article–each with its own unique DOI.
Authors submit a Registered Report Protocol describing the rationale, methodology and any approvals needed for the work.
Accepted protocols are published in the journal immediately, and authors receive an in-principle accept for the future article reporting the results of the study.
|An article describing detailed plans for conducting research, including the background, rationale, objectives, methodology, statistical plan, project organization, and any approvals needed for the work.||A peer-reviewed article that presents new methods, software, databases or tools.||A pair of peer-reviewed, interlinked components, including:
1) A step-by-step protocol posted to protocols.io, with specialized tools for communicating technical details including reagents, measurements, formulae and dynamic flow charts
2) An article published in PLOS ONE contextualizing the protocol, with sections discussing applications, limitations, expected results, and sample datasets.
|When can you submit?||Submit before any phase of research begins (e.g. data collection or processing, or participant recruitment).||Submit before data collection or participant recruitment is complete.||Submit after the new method has been validated / proven to achieve its intended purpose.||Submit after the new method has been validated / proven to achieve its intended purpose—even after it has been used in other published works.|
|Is it right for you?||All methods publications help to give researchers well-deserved credit for their development work, improve transparency, and provide for future discoverability and reproducibility—but each option offers additional unique benefits as well.|
|Choose Registered Reports if you want...
✓ peer review feedback to strengthen your methodological approach
✓ an in-principle acceptance of a research paper reporting the completed study, ensuring rapid communication of results
|Choose Study Protocols if you want…
✓ to transparently communicate the direction of your current research
✓ rapid review and publication of your protocol, if it has already been reviewed as part of an external funding or ethical approval process
|Choose Research Articles if you want…
✓ to introduce and disseminate a useful, validated approach that others may adopt
|Choose Lab Protocols if you want…
✓ to enhance reproducibility with easy-to-follow dynamic elements (e.g flow charts, detailed instructions, or videos)
✓ to provide an integrated pathway for others to modify and build upon the method