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This website was made possible thanks to the generous support of the MIT Alumni Class Fund.

NextGen Protocols: Philosophy

Every one of us enjoys the benefits of science and engineering every day, from phones to pharmaceuticals.

Research is very expensive, performed by highly trained specialists who often receive formal training for as much as a decade. Remarkably, researchers learn new techniques using the same tools as 20 years ago: brief notes on a paper protocol, or worse, a concise description found in the methods section of most journals.

Inadequate communication about how to do experiments is not only a barrier to research progress, but it also creates another pressing problem: irreproducible results. Problems with reproducibility are created by poor communication – costing scientists’ time, and taxpayers’ dollars, and also jeopardizing public confidence, and discouraging investment in research.

The NextGen Protocols are a simple combination of written protocols and short video clips. Protocols are easily uploaded to the website where they are searchable and sharable, and users can provide feedback. By working together to communicate more effectively, we have the potential to accelerate research and promote each other’s careers, while growing public confidence and encouraging investment in all of our futures.

  • Closing the gap between the methods section in a manuscript, and the real methods: Many journals don’t make space for detailed methods, which in some cases makes it difficult to reproduce data. NextGen Protocols closes that gap.
  • Promoting the next generation of scientists: Recognizing that all discoveries start at the bench, and appreciating the art and effort that goes into producing quality data, NextGen Protocols provides opportunities for students and young scientists to showcase their work.
  • Training young scientists and enhancing protocol quality. Young scientists and students serve as protocol reviewers and curators, and get credit for their work. They receive a valuable educational experience while raising the standard for protocol quality.
  • Accelerating global research: Many research teams comprise members from around the world, making effective communication about how to perform experiments crucial. Having an easy way to post and share methods for ongoing work increases efficiency within laboratories, and promotes synergy with other laboratories.
  • Accelerating innovation: Given the rapid pace of research, there is a need for convenient tools to teach others how to successfully adopt new technologies.