PeerJ supports the Resource Identification Initiative

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PeerJ is committed to improving scholarly communications and as part of this commitment, we are pleased to support a pilot project from the Resource Identification Initiative (#RII).

What is it?

RII is a community led effort (originating out of the FORCE11 group) designed to make it easier for researchers to identify the key research resources used to produce scientific findings within a published study. To start the initiative, the group is conducting a three-month pilot which PeerJ is pleased to take part in (along with many other journals and publishers)

Participation in the pilot is optional, but for three months we will be asking our authors if they want to participate. To do so, they will be asked to provide sufficient information in their ‘Materials and Methods’ sections to uniquely and unambiguously identify the following types of resources:

– Antibodies
– Genetically modified organisms
– Software tools, data, databases and services

Why is it important to participate in this pilot?

In some ways, this pilot is a natural extension to the recent PeerJ paper which demonstrated that identifiability is a serious problem for reproducibility.

This pilot, and the larger project of which it is a part, represents an important step towards ensuring reproducible methods and will provide critical data to help researchers identify suitable reagents and tools.

In recognition that articles now need to be written both for human and machine-based understanding, the project is asking authors not only to provide traditional citation information (e.g., catalog numbers, stock numbers and literature citations), but also a persistent and standardized identifier that can be recognized by a machine. These, identifiers, which are referred to as Research Resource Identifiers (RRIDs) are globally unique identifiers that can be used by a search engine to return all papers in which a particular antibody, organism or tool was used.

How does this pilot work?

Participation is very simple. When referencing antibodies, GMOs or software tools then in addition to supplying standard information like the name of the vendor and the catalog number, authors will be asked to supply an RRID at the appropriate place in their manuscript, and prior to publication. For example:

– for Antibodies: Cell signaling, Cat #2391, RRID: AB_10695807
– for Genetically modified organisms: RRID: MGI: 009592
– for Software tools, data, databases and services: SedDB, RRID: nlx_154724

The text that then appears in the paper will simply appear in the same way that an author might provide a regular citation or Genbank Accession number. For example: “Wnt3 was localized using a rabbit polyclonal antibody C64F2 against Wnt3 (Cell Signaling Technology, Cat# 2721S, RRID: AB_2215411)”

To make it easy to obtain these identifiers, the RII Working Group have created a Resource Identification Portal where authors can search for their antibodies, organisms and software tools, data sets etc. and obtain the appropriate identifiers. In many ways, this pilot is a test of that portal.

For an author, the process is completed in 4 steps:

– Go to the Resource Identification Portal
– Search for your research resource (search tips and help are provided)
– Click on the ‘CITE This’ button
– Copy the reference and insert it into your manuscript at the appropriate location

The citations supplied via this pilot will be included in the final publication as part of our production process. However, most importantly for the evaluation of the pilot, the organisers are seeking feedback on the process itself. Therefore, after completing the lookup process, authors will be asked to fill out a brief survey regarding their experience.

We hope that this is easy to accomplish, and we encourage PeerJ authors to join this important and ground-breaking effort to transform the way we report and view Materials and Methods sections in the scientific literature.