As many others, I have collected my fair amount of profiles on professional and Science social networks. LinkedIn, Academia, ResearchGate. The real limitation all these web sites share, is that they basically provide you a showcase, in which you can expose yourself to sport your achievements, share your professional profile, and show up as cool as you can. I have always felt that proper tools for collaboration and information sharing in Science were lacking on the internet. Social networking for scientists is limited to a mere activity of results communication and discussion, whereas it could be really useful to have platforms to share datas and protocols.
That is why, as I have heard about protocols.io on Twitter, this project caught my attention immediately. Protocols.io is an online community serving as repository for experimental protocols in Life Sciences. A free, central, up-to-date and crowdsourced protocol database for life scientists. The project is promoted an maintained by ZappyLab, an organisation of scientists whose goal is to provide tools for protocols and lab methods sharing.
Registration is open and pretty simple. Differently from other science communities, you don’t need to provide an “institutional mail address”, any address goes, and this is great for undergrads and graduate students that may have not an official mail address. You subscribe with your mail, and that is enough to make your way to a growing list of lab protocols. You can share your own protocols, deciding whether to make them publicly available or privately shared with you colleagues only. You may also enjoy the benefits of having a smartphone, as ZappyLab provides an application for Android and iOS, available on marketplaces.
At this very moment I am exploring this website, trying to figure out how to deal with it, but it seems pretty simple and user-friendly. Of course, the amount of available protocols is not really high, but this depends on the number of subscribers. The more we are, the more we share, the more protocols will be available.
I cheer up to this project as I think it may represent a great contribution. We always make a big talking about “open science”, “reproducibility” and freedom of knowledge. But most of the times, we limit to blame the publishing groups for their policies of copyright, invoking a major openness. But what are we doing to help Science openness? Sharing your protocols is a fairly good contribution in this, and I hope that you will put your attention and give your contribution to this amazing project.