OpenWetWare:Nature Methods article

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'''10 days till submission!'''<br>
'''8 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 15:35, 9 November 2006

8 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 ( is a wiki (see box 1) promoting the sharing of information, know-how, and experience among scientific researchers and groups working in biological science and engineering [1]. 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. All content is freely reusable under either a Creative-Commons Attribution Sharealike or GFDL license.

OpenWetWare:Protocols is a section dedicated to protocols ranging from plasmid minipreps to isolation of murine splenocytes. Protocols are written in a similar style to a Nature Methods 'recipe book' and can be printed for use at the bench. They are intended for scientists trained in basic laboratory techniques but 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 and are compiled when multiple individual protocols are available. They represent the consensus opinion among the OpenWetWare scientific community on how to perform an experimental procedure [2]. 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 reagents or equipment and even indicate pricing information. One example of lab specific and consensus protocols are the DNA ligation protocols [3].

  • Reshma 19:13, 7 November 2006 (EST): The following paragraph is a potential replacements for the paragraph above. It emphasizes the differences between OWW and existing protocol sources rather than the similarities. Just throwing it out there as a potential alternative. May want to cite an online protocol source.

Consensus protocols are intended for a general scientific audience and represent the consensus opinion among the OpenWetWare scientific community on how to perform an experimental procedure. In contrast to other, more traditional protocols books like Molecular Cloning, anyone with an OpenWetWare account can edit consensus protocols [2]. Thus, the community can update and amend protocols more rapidly than most paper or online protocol reference sources permit, enabling protocols to remain current with best practices. The DNA ligation protocols on OpenWetWare offer a useful example of both lab-specific and consensus protocols [3].

OpenWetWare is a growing community and we encourage researchers to join 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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