ResearchRecipes / Scitocols

IT Innovation ChallengesStudent project led by Einar B Magnusson

Hilary round 2015

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Oxford scientists do world class scientific research in every field. This is despite the fact that the organisation and communications of research methods and protocols are often in a very archaic form.

For example, a research student in chemistry needs many different protocols to synthesise the chemicals they use, and slightly varying any protocol can dramatically influence the result. The student amasses a lot of lab knowledge over the course of their D.Phil., which is usually gathered in a stack of paper lab books. This is unfortunate as it makes the distribution of knowledge within the group very slow. Even worse, the knowledge frequently simply gets lost when the student finishes. Another troublesome example is a researcher working with nano-fabrication. In this case, the lab books are often kept in a cleanroom environment, so accessing them takes quite an effort. As a result, the transfer of knowledge between different groups is usually limited to what gets written in journal publications, which can be lacking in detail due to the standard journal format.

We want to make a web platform for research groups to organise their procedures and protocols. Its primary use will be to maintain and perfect the knowledge within the group. Additionally, we hope that researchers will recognise the potential of sharing their protocols with the rest of their field. Hence, protocols can be made publicly accessible, accelerating progress in the field while generating citations to the researcher’s work.

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