The “Tutorials” category: Incentivizing the tutorials to educate new researchers


We know that by far the best way to learn something is by doing it. Computational tutorials in the molecular sciences help new practitioners truly grasp what they are doing, and are an irreplaceable part of the training process. Because of this utility, a number of researchers have developed very valuable simulation tutorials. But it would be great to have even more and even better tutorials. How can we incentivize their creation and maintenance?

Why not turn tutorials into real, peer-reviewed publications? This rewards people for the time and effort they put into creating these invaluable resources. With authorship incentives aligned with what everyone needs, for either themselves or for their students.

We created the LiveCoMS category of Tutorials to incentivize the development of molecular simulation tutorials that are updated continually. Such tutorial papers are peer-reviewed, and consist of a short article describing a high-quality tutorial or set of tutorials and its intended purpose. The tutorials themselves could include web pages with walkthroughs and downloadable files to work through, downloadable Jupyter notebooks teaching users how to perform a modeling task, or more extensive online course-like formats with recorded lectures.

Tutorials should be updated to reflect updates or upgrades to the software they are based on, as well as being expanded and improved for additional functionality. As with other LiveCoMS papers categories, authors can resubmit the tutorial paper after significant updating for peer-review again, providing a way to get credit for this ongoing maintenance work and expansion. Of course, authors are free to update their tutorials as often as they like; resubmission is required only when they want a new peer-reviewed version.

Over time, we hope to develop additional LiveCoMS-sponsored tools (such as regression testing workflows) and guidelines for user experience, so that it is easy for high-quality tutorials to be updated, shared and used. As more tutorials are submitted, we can use the peer reviews to help raise the bar for better tutorials for the field as a whole.

Come join us in the effort to improve molecular simulation training! Send us your high quality tutorials, get credit for them, and improve molecular simulation training across the world.

Michael Shirts Managing Editor, Living Journal of Computational Molecular Science