A protocol – an a priori methods section – is common practice in many disciplines. By formally articulating what it is that one intends to do and how they intend to undertake a study, protocols offer the research process several advantages. They allow one to revisit their original intent, either to get back on track or to reflect on where and why changes to the process were made. They provide an opportunity to share one’s area of research and intent to undertake an inquiry in advance of actually doing so; this disclosure can help to build networks between studies that are in process. Lastly, in certain disciplines and in certain types of research, protocols are integral to identifying and interpreting study bias. 

Ideally, a protocol is shared in advance of a study being undertaken. While this isn’t always strictly necessary, it is this a priori declaration that is the integral difference between a protocol and a detailed methods section. 

Protocols can be communicated and distributed in a number of ways: formal publication is common in some disciplines and areas of research, deposit in an online repository or as a conference abstract for others. 

If not being formally published, thesis and dissertation study protocols or conference artifacts can be deposited and, if desired, registered with OSF. 


To start using OSF, you’ll first need to create an account. You can do this using your CWL at this link. 

Once you have an account, you can simply deposit your protocol by creating a new project and uploading your file. Instructions here for setting up a project. And instructions here for uploading your files. 

If you want to formally register your protocol on OSF, you can follow these instructions. 

There’s more that you can do with OSF than simply depositing files. UBC Library often has workshops either through the Centre for Scholarly Communications on the Okanagan campus or through the Research Commons on the Vancouver campus. Irrespective of the campus, these workshops may be available virtually or in person. 


For assistance or questions about protocols, registrations, or OSF, contact Mathew Vis-Dunbar (, Data & Digital Scholarship Librarian.