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The ABRF Committee on Core Rigor and Reproducibility (CCoRRe) is aware of the critical role core facilities play in driving RR&T solutions. They have proposed the following concrete steps core facilities can enact to improve overall research quality:

  1. Set the Standards.

    Develop an RR&T statement that is displayed prominently on your website, within the lab, and in user agreements. See here for a template. 

  2. Hold your operations to these standards.

    Ensure your core staff are well-versed in the RR&T standards for your laboratory. Incorporate new techniques and services into your existing RR&T statements. Encourage your staff’s participation in RR&T training initiatives.

  3. Educate your customers.

    ORT encourages free or reduced-cost initial consultation sessions that devote time to discussing RR&T aspects of the customer’s experiments.  Be up-front in explaining your standards and ensure all customers receive communications about your RR&T statements. Ensure your customers know up-front costs and expectations surrounding controls for experiments run in your core facility.

  4.  Enforce RR&T standards.
    Be forthright about expectations around how your core’s contributions are addressed in the methods section of papers and about the specific terminology to be used to acknowledge your core.


How can I increase customer compliance with best practices in my field?
Clear, up-front communication is the best mechanism for creating success.  Encourage customers to contact you early in the research design process and provide them with resources and advice in making decisions related to research design that will impact the quality of the data they get. You are an expert in your technical field and your knowledge will help strengthen the experimental results.
How can I increase customer acknowledgement of my core's contribution to publications?
It is best practice for all PIs that use core facilities to acknowledge the core facility and their funding support (if applicable) in any papers that core facilities supported.  To facilitate this, ORT encourages all core directors to provide acknowledgment statements for the convenience of the paper authors.  We encourage you to socialize this acknowledgment statement in as many places as possible (e-mail signatures, on your core’s website, on any documentation or tangibles the PI/lab member might receive, on the log-in screen to lab computers or iLab/infoporte, etc.). For assistance in determining the most effective strategies for targeting the PIs your lab serves, please reach out to the Office of Research Technologies at Core directors may also want to consider establishing Research Resources Identifiers (RRIDs) for their cores by registering with The Core Marketplace.  The RRID is a unique identifier that can be used to tie your core to a service it provided that is less prone to spelling errors, typos, or confusion with core facilities at other institutions.
What do I do if I have concerns about RR&T about a proposed or existing project?
This is the most difficult aspect of navigating RR&T in a shared resource facility, in part because it may vary broadly.  We encourage you to treat RR&T concerns as a lack of understanding and to use the opportunity to explain, with sources, the problems you have noticed and the appropriate solutions.

The “pressure to publish” should not circumvent the conduct of rigorous and reproducible science, but it can create challenges for students, postdocs or fixed-term faculty who may be acting on behalf of their PIs.  As a core director or manager, you have a responsibility to negotiate these difficult conversations.  Practical approaches for consideration:

  1. Ask for a meeting with the PI to discuss your concerns about the study design, number of replicates, appropriate controls, etc. to find the best solution.  Remember – you are the technical expert.
  2. Involve the trainee in discussions with the PI but act as the mediator, always advocating for the very best science to be done in your core.  This will provide the trainee with proper support and help them find their voice.
  3. Partner with the customer’s lab as a scientific collaborator (ask to attend a lab meeting, offer to edit the paper, etc.), explaining the necessity of RR&T and providing justification for sample size calculations, appropriate controls or the amount of time required to complete the experiments.  Provide published papers or protocols that support the rigorous conduct of research in your core.

If the approaches listed above are not successful in resolving the scientific challenges associated with undue pressure, graduate students can reach out to their curriculum directors or student services managers for assistance.  Postdocs can contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and fixed-term faculty can contact their department’s Associate Chair for Administration, Director of Research or Chair.  The University Ombuds Office is also available for confidential consultations regarding problems or disputes.