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There are so many techniques/methodologies in the life sciences that we can use to interrogate interesting questions. The thing is, most of us are completely unaware of the available methods we can employ. Rather, we go with the techniques we are familiar with or that are popular in our subdomains at the time. But that's pretty limiting.

So I'm wondering... we have databases for everything else... is there one for life sciences techniques/methods? Something like this could be immensely helpful in experimental planning. In particular, I think a comprehensive database would help scientists break outside of their spheres of familiarity and to employ less known (but potentially illuminating) methods to their questions.

I know there are journals that publish protocols and methods, but they are fragmented and don't encompass everything.

Does what I'm looking for exist? If not, how might one go about creating such a tool?

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3 Answers

There's Benchfly, which is a video-based protocol library:

http://www.benchfly.com/video-protocols.php

There's also JOVE, which is a peer-reviewed video journal that sometimes covers protocols:

http://www.jove.com/

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Thanks. I knew about JOVE but not Benchfly. These looks good. By database, I was thinking something a little more 'smart' in that it would help you select experimental techniques based on various parameters that one might set. JOVE and Benchfly are broken down at a very high level (categories like chemistry or biochemistry) but they don't have much more metadata that would facilitate technique selection. Perhaps a future project for me :) –  Alex Feb 18 '13 at 12:26
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There is also protocol online, but without tags, only sorted by category. It could nevertheless be interesting.

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My personal favourite is OpenWetWare. Think wikipedia for scientific protocols and an open access lab notebook.

There's a problem with this things. Despite the common stereotype of scientist being open and good at sharing, my experience is the opposite. Many laboratories are not good at all in sharing their techniques/secrets. They will share the basic stuff that you can find online, no problem, but that's about it.

Seems they're afraid that everyone's else after them, trying to scoop them. I have suggested OpenWetWare to some other labs and they refused for that same reason. Even though some will use it to find protocols, they don't see a reason to share back.

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