With the huge number of methods that are becoming more and more available, choosing the right tool for your research, and ensuring you’re using it optimally, are major challenges. Further, there is an urgent need for reproducibility standards to make science more reliable. To address these issues, Nature Research is launching Nature Reviews Methods Primers, a new journal aimed at giving researchers the tools and information needed to assess, adopt and build on research methods.
The journal will publish commissioned articles, Primers, which provide an authoritative overview of a method or technique, including the best approaches for experimentation, analysis and applications. These articles will cover methods across the life and physical sciences, as well as those that cross disciplines. Primers are aimed at new (undergraduate and graduate students) or established (academic and industry) researchers wanting to use new techniques and methods and broaden their range of competencies.
What is a Primer?
Primers are broad articles that provide readers with a comprehensive overview of a method or technique. Nature Reviews Methods Primers is a new addition to our Review journals portfolio, publishing one Primer per week, each accompanied by a graphical summary, called a PrimeView. The aim is to provide researchers with everything they need to know to evaluate, select and apply unfamiliar scientific and engineering methods.
Primers aren’t protocols! While we will link to relevant protocols as associated articles on our website, Primers synthesize the available information on a method, providing the best practices in experimental design and set-up, data collection and analysis, and reproducibility and standardization. We’ll also show how the method has been used across a range of research areas, enabling readers to conceptualize applications.
Global author teams foster collaboration
Primers are written by teams of researchers from around the world. In doing this, we will cover a breadth of knowledge, expertise and thinking around a given technique, and bring together researchers who may otherwise have never collaborated. This should provide a complete overview of the main ideas in the field. Currently, our panels of authors include researchers from North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia. Because so many Primers are focused on methods that can be applied to a huge range of subject areas, many individual Primers are being written by interdisciplinary teams, for example, biologists and materials scientists, or by teams working across physical and life sciences. We are eager to see whether and how this collaboration will translate into research collaborations in the future.
Creating a roadmap for reproducibility and standardization
All Primers have the same structure set by the journal, ensuring that the information contained within Primers is consistent, and that readers will always know what they’ll get when they read a Primer. The Introduction will present the method and its underlying science; the Experimentation section will outline the best practices for experimental design, using the method, and acquiring data; in the Results section, authors will lay out what you can do with your data, including the best practices for correction and analysis, and the tools available for these processes; the Applications section will show readers the different ways in which the method can be used to address a broad range of research questions; the Reproducibility and Data Deposition section will outline issues with reproducibility – no matter how big or small – and lay out the minimum reporting requirements for writing up the methods section, as well as a plan for depositing and sharing data; the Limitations and Optimizations section will discuss what the method is currently unable to do and ways in which this is being addressed; finally, the Outlook section will lay out a roadmap for the next 5-10 years in the development and use of the method.
Launching in 2021