Authors : Olga Giraldo, Alexander Garcia, Oscar Corcho
Experimental protocols are key when planning, performing and publishing research in many disciplines, especially in relation to the reporting of materials and methods. However, they vary in their content, structure and associated data elements.
This article presents a guideline for describing key content for reporting experimental protocols in the domain of life sciences, together with the methodology followed in order to develop such guideline.
As part of our work, we propose a checklist that contains 17 data elements that we consider fundamental to facilitate the execution of the protocol. These data elements are formally described in the SMART Protocols ontology.
By providing guidance for the key content to be reported, we aim (1) to make it easier for authors to report experimental protocols with necessary and sufficient information that allow others to reproduce an experiment, (2) to promote consistency across laboratories by delivering an adaptable set of data elements, and (3) to make it easier for reviewers and editors to measure the quality of submitted manuscripts against an established criteria.
Our checklist focuses on the content, what should be included. Rather than advocating a specific format for protocols in life sciences, the checklist includes a full description of the key data elements that facilitate the execution of the protocol.