2016 is an important year for Nature Protocols as in the summer we will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Both in response to the success of some of our earlier protocols and reflecting the enormous improvements in the methods available to researchers over the past ten years, this month we are launching a new article type, the Protocol Extension.
Our first Protocol Extension is, as the name implies, still in the traditional protocol format. The method described in this article is based on an earlier version of the technique, for which we published a protocol back in 2006 from a different research group. This protocol is widely used by researchers and various changes to methodology have been made over recent years. Several of these adaptations are described in the new Protocol Extension article. Unlike Protocol Update articles, which should be used in place of the protocol they update, Protocol Extension articles provide a substantial modification or additional applications. They complement, rather than replace the earlier protocol, and may be authored by the same, or a different group of researchers. However, they also have some similarities to Protocol Updates, in that the Protocol Extension articles have headers to make their article type clear, they are always at the start of an issue, and there is a statement in the abstract to make it clear the article modifies or offers additional applications to one or more existing protocols.
As method development is an iterative process it is not always clear what constitutes an extension to a protocol. Very few new methods are developed that do not build on an earlier method, thus most of our protocols could be viewed as extending existing methods to a certain extent. In view of this we have decided to reserve this new article type for those articles where a new protocol is clearly warranted, and there is a clear reason to link the new article to an earlier protocol, for example, where sections of the procedure are the same.
As always, if you have any comments and suggestions, we would very much like to hear your views.