Guide to Rigor and Reproducibility for Flow Cytometry Experiments

You may use this as a template for wording in your grants and publications to address Rigor and Reproducibility for your Flow Cytometry Experiments run in the UNC Flow Cytometry Core Facility.

FASEB report on enhancing research reproducibility.  identifies three main gaps to research reproducibility:

  • Lack of uniform definitions to describe the problem
  • Insufficient reporting of key experimental details
  • Gaps in scientific training
Recommendations for research using antibodies (page 9-10)  'Although vendor-supplied technical information may help investigators select reagents such as antibodies, this information is insufficient for validation'.

Guide for Rigor and Reproducibility for Flow Cytometry Experiments in the UNC Flow Cytometry Core Facility

I. Multicolor Flow Cytometry: all flow cytometry experiments will be run using replicate [animals/cell lines, etc] according to recommendations based on power calculations. Single color controls will be included with each experiment for compensation calculations. Fluorescence Minus One (FMO) controls will be incorporated to validate the expression of rare or low-expressing markers.  Daily quality control of all instrumentation is performed based on manufacturers’ recommendations to ascertain that all of the UNC Flow Cytometry Core Facility flow cytometers maintain peak performance. Flow cytometric fluorophore compensation and analysis is completed using FlowJo, Summit, or FCS Express.

II. Cell sorting: quality control/laser alignment and drop delay calculation will be carried out according to manufacturers’ recommendations on all cell sorters prior to sorting. Single color controls will be included with each experiment for compensation calculations. Post-sort analysis will be run on each population to verify purity when possible.

III. All antibodies will be validated prior to reporting of results. Recommendations for research using antibodies (page 7-8)  'Although vendor-supplied technical information may help investigators select reagents such as antibodies, this information is insufficient for validation'.


As always, cite core support and appropriate instrumentation grants in your publicationsThis is important for center renewal!!

Learn about the NIH Initiative to Enhance Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency.  (Video)

Have your antibodies been validated? Check the Antibody registry.

Also, FluoroFinder has partnered with CiteAb to provide validation data for >200,000 reagents. 

FAQ on Resource Authentication Plan:  https://grants.nih.gov/reproducibility/faqs.htm#V 

What Kind of Information Should I Include in My Application’s Resource Authentication Plan?  Check out instructions on NIH Nexus Blog. 

What are 'Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources' that should be addressed your application's authentication plan? Key biological and/or chemical resources include, but are not limited to, cell lines, specialty chemicals, antibodies and other biologics.  More on NIH website

Explore Optimized Multicolor Immunofluorescence Panels (OMIPs) are peer-reviewed panels designed for fluorescent assays. Available via Fluorofinder