A New Way to Share Best Practices

Ever wish you were a fly on the wall in another laboratory? Well, a new journal website offers the industry opportunities to do just that-to see through video how other scientists carry out particular experiments and processes.

Ever wish you were a fly on the wall in another laboratory? Well, a new journal website offers the industry opportunities to do just that-to see through video how other scientists carry out particular experiments and processes.

As a doctoral student at Harvard Medical School, Moshe Pritsker asked to recreate a method of culturing embryonic stem cells that had been reported by researchers in the United Kingdom. He tried following the steps in a related article but could not get the experiment to work, so he ended up flying to the UK to spend time with the scientists who authored the article to watch how they conducted the experiment. With a first-hand look, Pritsker was able to replicate the method-but not everyone has the resources to fly around the world to get an in-person perspective on a particular lab’s methods.
Based on that experience, Pritsker, along with Nikita Bernstein and Klaus Korak, founded the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE). The site provides step-by-step video demonstrations of experimental techniques and procedures. The site was established in 2006 and today, contains many detailed descriptions of advanced research methods through videos. Each video is published together with a peer-reviewed article to explain the video’s scientific quality, applicability, and technical details.

To date, Harvard, MIT, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Max Planck, and others have participated in the online journal. About 50 video articles are published per month.

Although journal articles and training workshops provide scientists with insight into how others do something, not every step comes across. “Even if they had the time, experimenters would probably not bother to document many of these nuances or tricks because they are a personal habit or established practice at the lab they are working at,” says JoVE about why the site is useful.  And yet, “these details can often mean the difference between success and failure,” JoVE adds.

The industry has been talking about the idea of sharing information for some time. JoVE offers a new way to help share best practices and to help train train those new to the laboratory or new to certain manufacturing methods.