OpenWetWare:ProjectDevelopment/Streamlined publishing of protocols

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Create a “consensus” page for each protocol. This page contains a best practice example of a protocol and links to other version(s) of the protocol that are present on OWW. It has an active talk page that is pointed to for discussion about the protocol. It has an official “curator” who is credited for maintaining the the accuracy of the consensus page. In the future, OWW could partner with a publisher to scrape the best of these protocols and publish them in a peer-reviewed journal.

Challenge or opportunity the development project answers

Tying OWW to the peer-reviewed literature. Increasing curated content on OWW.

Examples of what could be done or how it would work


  • Make top-level protocol pages out of many of the existing protocols that are popular on the site (prime the pump).
  • Establish an editorial board that will put out a call for curators and vet applicants. This serves the purpose of turning the role of curator into something one can put on one’s resume, since curators are vetted by an editorial board for the position.
  • Revamp the protocols homepage to be more like the Lostpedia community page. Encourage people to apply to be curators or to start new topics (which maybe gives you first crack at the curator spot as an incentive to generate content).
  • Automate the affiliation of lab-specific protocols with consensus protocol. (or make the process easy)
  • Scrape a “protocol a month” into Nature Protocols, along with a tune-up from the curator of the protocol.

Why the project should happen now

A protocols pipeline seems to be the lowest-barrier approach to creating and hosting content on OWW that has been “legitimized” by peer-reviewed journals. Validation of this sort will likely drive a major increase in the content that is generated on the site and also will be a way for OWW to distinguish itself from other “science websites.”

Once established the process will generate content that is superior to that which exists in the protocol books. It’s not just better because it’s open, but is of higher quality because of curation and ongoing road-testing by the community (protocols are constantly evolving and improving as they are re-used at the bench). The protocol journals and books simply can’t publish at a rate necessary to keep up with web-enabled collaboration within a community. We have a distinct advantage that can be maintained in the long term.

It also opens the door for similar initiatives in other areas such as OWW Reviews, OWW Equipment, OWW Materials, etc.

Who are the immediate customers (name them)?

Recently, several people have raised the idea of consensus protocols (James Hadfield to name one). Also, Cameron Neylon was interested in wiki reviews and could probably get behind protocols. Sean Moore would be a good nucleus for the protocols editorial board.

What are the metrics for success?