Reproducibility, transparency and access to biomedical research


Human health is challenged by a range of diseases and other health issues. Although biomedical research around the globe has led to many powerful approaches for diagnosis, treatment and cure, much more is needed to combat remaining and developing challenges.

Biomedical research relies on various types of experimentation, and it is important to recognize that progress requires the combined efforts of many research groups across many locations. For such joint efforts to be effective, it is critical that all facets of new research findings are made available and accessible to other researchers in a comprehensive and timely manner. Accessibility should be as broad as possible, best ensured via Open Access publication (1).

Most research articles available in the scientific literature contain some description of experimental conditions and methodology. However, journal format does not always allow for sufficient level of detailed description of methods and conditions. This can hamper reproducibility, leading to unnecessary delays in progress and to loss of precious research resources.

To help researchers with some of these problems, some journals publish papers designed to describe new methodologies and experimental approaches in complete detail. Some of these are Open Access, ensuring full accessibility by all researchers. One such journal is STAR Protocols, which was launched in 2019 by Cell Press. Different from a number of other journals, STAR Protocols aims to publish new methods with all the details needed to enable readers to use the protocol in a laboratory. This is important, as it increases transparency, and therefore the potential for reproducibility.

The Cohn group recently developed a new method for the purification of large DNA repair protein complexes from human cells. The work was published as a full article in Cell Reports (2). To complement the usage of the research article and the new method, we have now published the detailed protocol in STAR Protocols (3). We hope that making this comprehensive description of the method freely available will allow other research groups to make use of it for their research, collectively enhancing discovery in biomedical research.

The Cohn laboratory is funded by the Wellcome Trust.




  2. Socha, A, Yang, D, Bulsiewicz, A, Yaprianto, K, Kupculak, M, Liang, C-C, Hadjicharalambous, A, Wu, R, Gygi, S.P. and Cohn, M.A. WRNIP1 Is Recruited to DNA Interstrand Crosslinks and Promotes Repair. Cell Rep. 2020 Jul 7;32(1):107850. 

  3. Liang, C-C and Cohn, M.A. Purification of DNA repair protein complexes from mammalian cells. STAR Protoc. 2021 Feb 19;2(1):100348.


Martin Cohn
25th February 2021