Research Methods Deserve Credit and Recognition as a Valuable Research Output

Keywords: Methods, protocols, research assessment and evaluation, Open research, reproducibility


Open Research and improved mechanisms to assess and evaluate researchers are both things needed for the scholarly enterprise. We now commonly see open access to research articles, data and code, and citations, which together have moved the needle for achieving both Open Research and research assessment/evaluation. However, one key element that is missing, which is a cornerstone of the research process, is access to a granular description of the methods and approaches used to perform the research. The methods, approaches, and protocols are often incredibly painstaking to develop and optimize and are the key piece needed to fully interpret the results and ensure reproducibility. Too often sufficient information about methods is missing from research articles; the Cancer Biology reproducibility project that aimed to reproduce fifty research studies was stopped after just eighteen were attempted because the efforts to understand what experiments were used was a “hopeless slog”. The research community must incorporate better research method documentation before, during, and after publication to ensure that research efforts are replicable and that the methods can be valued as a standalone research output. is a platform, tool, and repository for collaborative method development, storage, and open access publication, which provides an ideal solution to this challenge. By publishing the methods and ensuring they have their own DOIs, any reuse and citations can be tracked and incorporated into research assessment and evaluation processes. Researchers who successfully develop and optimize research protocols deserve to receive credit for this as a distinct output alongside the overarching write-up presented in a manuscript and resulting data.  


Author Biography

Emma Ganley,

Emma Ganley is Director of Strategic Initiatives at Emma was formerly Chief Editor of PLOS Biology and worked in scientific publishing for 15 years. She consulted for the preprint server medRxiv and has been an Affiliate for bioRxiv for several years. Initially following a standard research career path, Emma obtained a PhD from the MRC-LMB in Cambridge in the UK, followed by a postdoc at UC Berkeley. She then moved into science publishing joining PLOS Biology in San Francisco in 2005. She took a position as Executive Editor of the JCB at Rockefeller University in New York in 2007. After relocating back to the UK and working at the University of Dundee with the funder CR-UK and on the Open Microscopy Environment project, Emma re-joined PLOS Biology from 2011 until 2019. Emma is passionate about all things related to open research, reproducibility, and scientific integrity.