OpenWetWare:Nature Methods article

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'''15 days till submission!'''<br>
'''14 days till submission!'''<br>
OpenWetWare Protocols: an open-access online protocol resource for biological researchers.
OpenWetWare Protocols: an open-access online protocol resource for biological researchers.

Revision as of 07:37, 3 November 2006

14 days till submission!



OpenWetWare Protocols: an open-access online protocol resource for biological researchers.

Manuscript Type

Brief correspondence - 400 words maximum oops we are over this by around 75 words. Some help with shortening it perhaps...


Corresponding Author: James Hadfield, CRUK Cambridge Research Institute, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 0RE. Tel: +44 (0)1223 404250; Fax: +44 (0)1223 404208; email:
OpenWetWare steering committee:

Note: This paper is being written and edited by any number of authors and the submission will be made after at least three OWW steering committee members agree it is ready. I am pretty sure this is not something that has been done before and we would like to be the first to use this method of writing and submission. It could prove a very useful way of creating methods and review articles.


OpenWetWare [1] is a wiki (see box 1) promoting the sharing of information, know-how, and experience among scientific researchers and groups who are working in the biological sciences. The site provides a place for groups and individuals to organize their own information and to collaborate easily and efficiently. For example, this article was written collaboratively on the wiki. OpenWetWare is open for anyone to view but requires registration to edit. Registration ensures that all edits are attributable to individual users.

OpenWetWare: Protocols is a section dedicated to protocols ranging from miniprep to microarray labelling. Protocols are written in a similar style to a Nature Methods 'recipe book', and can be easily printed for use at the bench. They are intended for scientists who have relevant basic technical expertise but are unfamiliar with the particular experimental approach.

Both individual and consensus protocols are available. Individual protocols are specific to the lab or person who wrote them, and are not necessarily written to be easily followed by researchers unfamiliar with them. In practice, however, most protocols are written to be shared within at least a lab group, and so are often clear enough to provide a useful starting point.

Consensus protocols are not a new idea [2] and are compiled when more than one individual protocol is available to choose from. They represent the consensus opinion among the OpenWetWare scientific community on how to perform an experimental procedure. Individual protocols are linked with the consensus protocol. A consensus protocol may have a self-nominated editor or even editorial board but anyone can edit, add notes, suggest alternative regents or equipment and even indicate pricing information. One example of lab specific and consensus protocols is the DNA ligation protocol [3]

OpenWetWare is a growing community and everyone is encouraged to join in and contribute to the dissemination of biological knowledge.


What is a wiki: A wiki is a type of website that allows the visitors themselves to easily add or edit content with or without the need for registration. This makes wikis an effective tool for collaborative authoring, the most famous being the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. The open style of wikis allowing any user to edit most pages is a cause for concern for most people new to wikis [4]. However, within the scientific community we see this as enabling the free flow of ideas. Furthermore, all wikis maintain a revision history for every page to allow reversion of edits, track page development and deal with any mistaken or malicious edits. This historical log is especially important for the sciences where new, possibly incorrect, information is always being discovered.


  1. OpenWetWare: [OpenWetWare]
  2. isbn:0-87969-577-3. [MolecularCloning]
  3. OpenWetWare: DNA ligation [OWW-ligation]
  4. Bo Leuf, Ward Cunningham. The Wiki way. Boston, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 2001. isbn:020171499X. [Cunningham-2001]
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