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Open Methods

Open methods refers to transparency and openness in the description of the processes, procedures as well as materials deployed in investigating a scientific phenomenon. Methods differ in their structure and form and although within scientific disciplines there is some homogeneity, however, across  disciplines these differences are more visible. Irrespective of discipline, methods in all of its diverse forms including study designs, protocols, code, materials, reagents, and databases among others, can be made fully transparent and open to the wider scientific community.

Why Open Your Methods?

Demonstrates Integrity and Increases Comprehension

When you provide public details about the methodological procedures used in conducting your study, you provide readers a greater insight into the research which enables them view your results within the right context and appreciate the rigor and respect the integrity of your research. 

Enhances Reproduction by Exposing Methodological Details

While research articles or book chapters are traditionally required to feature a methods section, this section is often times too brief to fully explain the methodological procedure deployed in executing the research. Thus the brief methods narration provided is usually inadequate for the complete reproduction and replication of studies. Through open methods, you facilitate the accurate and smooth reproduction and replication of your research.

Extends Scientific Reach and Impact

Of all sections of a research, the methodology section has the highest propensity to be adapted by other scholars across multiple disciplines and multiple research questions. As such opening methods up to the public ensures a higher rate of reuse of your methods thereby maximizing the citation potential of your research. In fact research articles and scholarly book chapters solely dedicated to methods are usually highly cited, and are known to generate readership and citations for a longer duration, much longer than regular scholarly research output.

Open Methods at Cecilian

Opening up research methods to the wider public can be done using various avenues which include sharing procedures, protocols, materials, code, and reagents among others.  Whichever avenue you choose, publicly sharing your methods enables the reproduction, reuse and continuous relevance of your research. Most importantly, open methods maximize trust in your research. Explore below, the four avenues for opening up your methods at Cecilian.

Method Chapters

What it is:
A full methods research book chapter is a peer-reviewed chapter whose sole purpose is the presentation of new research methods, techniques, instruments, software, databases or tools.
At what stage of your research should you submit?
You can submit a full methods research book chapter to a relevant Cecilian book open for submissions, only after the new method has been validated or demonstrated scientific evidence that it achieves the purpose it was designed or intended for.
Is this approach to Open Methods right for you?
In general, opening up your methods, demonstrates transparency, provides researchers acknowledgement for their scientific developmental work, maximizes discoverability, reproducibility, citations and trust. Additionally, however, when you choose to open your methods using Full Methods Book Chapter, you are guaranteed the following additional benefits:

  • An avenue to introduce and pioneer a useful, peer-reviewed and validated research approach, technique, instrument or procedure that other researchers can adopt in future research

  • Maximized citation potential over an extended period of time 

Registered Reports

What it is:
Two peer-reviewed scholarly publications consisting of a protocol and a full research book chapter -each with a unique DOI.

Authors submit a Registered Report Protocol elucidating the rationale, procedure, methodology as well as any permissions and approvals required for the research work.
Accepted protocols are immediately published with a unique DOI, in the current volume of the domain/discipline specific Registered Report Protocols Book; while authors receive an in-principle acceptance for the future book chapter reporting the results of the research. At the end of the process, both registered protocol and final book chapter have two unique DOIs and are linked.
At what stage of your research should you submit?
You can submit a Registered Report Protocol right before any phase of your research begins. For example, you can submit before beginning the data collection, data processing or participant recruitment process.
Is this approach to Open Methods right for you?
In general, opening up your methods, demonstrates transparency, provides researchers acknowledgement for their scientific developmental work, maximizes discoverability, reproducibility, citations and trust. Additionally, however, when you choose to open your methods using Registered Reports, you are guaranteed the following additional benefits:

  • Peer review feedback to enhance your methodological technique and approach

  • Assurance of methodological rigor once the registered report protocol is published

  • An in-principle acceptance of your main research chapter that reports the complete study, guaranteeing quick communication of your study’s findings

Lab Protocols

What it is:
Two peer reviewed publications interlinked together and consisting of:
(a) A protocol showing step-by-step procedures deposited on protocols.io with advanced mechanisms for the presentation and communication of experimental or technical details such as measurements, reagents, formulae, dynamic flow charts, and instruments. 
(b) A book chapter published in Cecilian Lab Protocols that provides contextual insights into the protocol alongside detailed sections that describe and discuss applications, limitations and expected results; as well as relevant sample datasets. 
At what stage of your research should you submit?
You can submit a Lab Protocol to the Cecilian Lab Protocols book volume open for submissions, only after the new method has been validated or after it has demonstrated scientific evidence that it achieves the purpose it was designed or intended for. Lab protocols can be submitted even after it has been used in other published scientific research.
Is this approach to Open Methods right for you?
In general, opening up your methods, demonstrates transparency, provides researchers acknowledgement for their scientific developmental work, maximizes discoverability, reproducibility, citations and trust. Additionally, however, when you choose to open your methods Lab Protocols, you are guaranteed the following additional benefits:

  • An avenue to maximize reproduction using dynamic elements such as flow charts, videos or detailed instructions that are easy to follow.

  • An avenue to participation of other researchers in building upon, modifying and further development of the method in an integrated manner

Study Protocols

What it is:
A stand-alone protocol published as a protocol chapter describing in much more detail, plans for carrying out a research which includes a research background, rationale, objectives, methodology, statistical/analytical plan, organization of the project as well as any permissions or approvals necessary for the research. 
Upon peer review, accepted Study Protocols are published with a unique DOI, in the current volume of the domain/discipline Study Protocols Book
At what stage of your research should you submit?
You can submit a stand-alone Study Protocol right before completing your data collection or participant recruitment process.
Is this approach to Open Methods right for you?
In general, opening up your methods, demonstrates transparency, provides researchers acknowledgement for their scientific developmental work, maximizes discoverability, reproducibility, citations and trust. Additionally, however, when you choose to open your methods using stand-alone Study Protocols, you are guaranteed the following additional benefits:

  • Communicate the direction of your research with transparency

  • Peer review feedback to enhance your methodological technique and approach

  • Rapid review and publication of your stand-alone protocol, if it has already been reviewed as part of an external funding or ethical approval process.

Embrace Openness. Embrace the Future.

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