Options for Publishing Research Protocols

Typically if a researcher is asked what they think of when they hear the word “publication,” a “traditional” research journal article likely comes to mind. However, if the entire research workflow is considered, there are many research outputs that could be published including articles, preprints, protocols, datasets, and software. (We are defining “published” simply as “disseminated,” although terms such as “shared” or “posted” may be more appropriate depending on the output.)

The number of venues for publishing these outputs is growing and includes data repositories and preprint servers like DRYAD and medRxiv. New journals such as the Journal of Open Source Software (JOSS) and Scientific Data have been founded specifically to allow these research outputs to be recognized within the scholarly system. In addition, expanded publication types are now offered by established journals like PLOS ONE, which introduced Lab and Study Protocol types in early 2021.

This article will provide options for publishing research protocols, however the Where Should I Publish? Guide linked on the left of the Scholarly Communication Guide also compares options for other research outputs.

Hours of a researcher’s time are often devoted to the development and refinement of procedural methods or protocols. These can include step-by-step descriptions of procedures, guidelines, best practices, workflows, safety precautions, and/or animal handling. Publishing these protocols:

  • Provides transparency of methods used and allows for reproducibility of results
  • Allows methods to be easily cited or linked to and credit given as appropriate
  • Fosters open science
  • Encourages feedback and dialogue about a method which may result in a refinement of the protocol
  • Promotes the reuse of protocols, decreasing wasted effort to establish a new protocol when a proven one already exists

Some options for publishing research protocols are listed below (note that these resources are NOT typically for clinical protocols):


Peer-Reviewed Journals

For questions regarding these options, contact a librarian from HSLS Data Services.

~Melissa Ratajeski