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Submit your Lab and Study Protocols to PLOS ONE!

PLOS ONE’s array of publication options that push the boundaries of Open Science continues to expand. We’re happy to announce two new article types that improve reproducibility and transparency, and allow researchers to receive credit for their contributions to study design: Lab Protocols and Study Protocols

These new article types complement other Open Science developments at PLOS ONE, such as Registered Reports, and support PLOS’ mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine. Adding reliable and accessible methods that can be built upon to the scientific record, Lab and Study Protocols support robust, reproducible science.  As reproducible science helps accelerate discoveries, such contributions deserve notice. 

Study Protocols

Consisting of a single article published in PLOS ONE, Study Protocols describe detailed plans and proposals for research projects that have not yet generated results. Sharing a study’s design and analysis plan before the research is conducted improves research quality by reducing the potential for bias, and credits researchers for the work that occurs prior to data collection. Additionally, studies that were peer reviewed as part of the funding process can be eligible for expedited publication. 

Already well-established in health-related fields, we’re opening the format to the natural sciences, medicine, and engineering, as well as the related social sciences and humanities. In fact, both Lab and Study Protocols are open to submissions within PLOS ONE’s inclusive scope, and are subject to our normal publication criteria.

Lab and Study Protocols from PLOS ONE provide new opportunities for researchers to gain more recognition for the work that goes into contributing detailed methods.

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Lab Protocols

Developed with researchers and in partnership with the team, Lab Protocols consist of two interlinked components that together describe verified, reusable methods:

  1. A step-by-step protocol on, with access to specialized tools for communicating methodological details and facilitating use of the protocol, including reagents, measurements, formulae, video clips and dynamic flow charts. 
  1. A peer-reviewed PLOS ONE article contextualizing the protocol, with sample datasets and sections discussing applications, limitations and expected results. 

This two-part setup provides the best of both worlds for authors: the detailed, step-by-step guidance is held on’s flexible open access platform, and the article in PLOS ONE helps increase the visibility and discoverability of the protocol by making it an official part of the peer-reviewed publication record. The partnership with supports authors by clearly communicating technical details in a user-friendly format to support reproducibility. 

Access from the PLOS ONE article to is seamless, via uniquely-created and clearly marked features of both platforms. The protocol and accompanying article are peer reviewed by subject experts. The method described in a Lab Protocol must have been shown to work in at least one peer-reviewed publication, so readers can be confident that the Lab Protocol will work as described.

Lab Protocols are now open to submissions reporting verified methodologies and computational techniques.

What does it look like?

The protocol on and the article on PLOS ONE work together to communicate details required to reproduce a study.  

On the left is the protocol on With the details—steps—of the protocol portrayed through interactive features and special tools, authors can effectively communicate complicated lab instructions. On the right is the PLOS ONE article, providing context, assurance of peer review, and increased visibility for the protocol. Both elements of a Lab Protocol will be interlinked and available simultaneously, with peer review of both organised by PLOS ONE and its community of Academic Editors.

Continuing to improve methods papers

Thanks to our partnership with, we’re able to offer authors enhanced functionality to share their protocols alongside the features from a peer-reviewed publication. We believe that researchers will really benefit from the dynamic functionality that provides, helping pave the way for improved methods papers and increased reproducibility across disciplines. 

To help those who are trying for the first time, authors of Lab Protocols at PLOS ONE can receive free support from the editorial team to upload and format their protocols as part of the publication process in PLOS ONE.

Ready to submit?

To submit a Lab or Study Protocol, view PLOS ONE‘s publication criteria and submit your article through the journal website.

  1. Great initiative. So Study protocol is simply the ‘Registered Report’ Protocol part without the RR Research Article.
    For Lab Protocols, I’m a bit unclear why one would publish an associated PLOSONE Research Article with a ‘‘sample dataset’, if the requirement is that ‘the method in a Lab Protocol must have been shown to work in at least one [I assume previously published] peer-reviewed publication’

    1. Thanks for your comment. Study protocols are different to Registered Report Protocols. Study Protocols are a stand-alone contribution, which we consider on their own merits, without a commitment to publish results. Authors of Study Protocols are free to publish the results of their studies in the venue of their choice. Publication of Study protocols can, also, be expedited if authors provide proof of peer-reviewed funding, and ethical approval on submission. This is different to Registered Report Protocols (RRP), where every RRP is peer reviewed with accepted RRPs being offered an in principle acceptance of their results. These two options offers authors greater choice, and helps meet the needs of different communities.

      For Lab Protocols, the peer-reviewed publication and sample dataset are different publication criteria. We require evidence of the protocol being used in published research, by citing a peer-reviewed publication where the protocol has been followed. We encourage, but don’t require, authors to provide a sample dataset that has been generated by the protocol they describe.

    2. To update this comment, in June 2021 we expanded the scope of Lab Protocol articles to include new and modified methods – in addition to methods that have been verified by having been used in a peer reviewed publication. Now, authors can demonstrate that their protocol works by either linking to a peer-reviewed publication in which the protocol was used, or, for new and modified methods, they can provide benchmarking data to demonstrate it works. More information at:

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