Rigor and Reproducibility
The Microscopy Services Laboratory (MSL) is committed to providing researchers with tools to ensure their research is rigorous and reproducible. The following are specific ways in which MSL contributes to the rigor and reproducibility of research:
- MSL performs weekly maintenance on all instruments, covers the most complex ones with comprehensive service contracts, and insures instruments against catastrophic damage. These actions contribute to a stable of reliable instruments that can be used by trained scientists with confidence. A list of the specific checks included in our maintenance procedures for each microscope, as well as which of them are covered by comprehensive service contracts are here.
- Our electron microscopy sample preparation services are led by Ms. Victoria Madden, a Certified Electron Microscopy Technologist (certification provided by the Microscopy Society of America), and also include Kristen White, a certified Medical Technologist (certification provided by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists). These credentials ensure best practices are followed in all projects involving electron microscopy sample preparation and imaging performed by staff.
- MSL provides recommendations for light microscopy sample preparation.
- MSL provides an introduction and reading material for proper sampling methods.
- MSL provides individual training on all of its instruments, to ensure researchers learn proper image acquisition, image storage and metadata retention practices.
- MSL can provide guidelines and tools for properly displaying images.
- MSL provides extensive consulting and on-on-one training on custom image analysis pipelines.
- MSL is available to consult on writing methods sections for papers. MSL can provide detailed information on light-sources, filter sets, detectors, and other hardware components for proper description in methods sections.
- At least one MSL staff member is always on hand for consultations of any kind, or to troubleshoot problems with any instrument.
- If MSL staff detects problems with any instrument or software, we communicate the problem to any users that might have been affected, as well as workarounds, and timelines for complete resolution. Similarly, MSL staff will communicate changes to any instrument or analysis software to our users, and make best efforts to maintain backwards compatibility.
While MSL can guarantee work directly undertaken by its staff (electron microscopy sample preparation and imaging) is done to the highest standards, it is the responsibility of individual scientists to ensure they follow our recommendations to ensure the rigor and reproducibility of their research.
In addition to the specific ways in which MSL contributes to the rigor and reproducibility of research conducted in the core, all of UNC is committed to this goal. General guidelines for rigorous and reproducible research at UNC can be found here.
Please note that the NIH now requires rigor and reproducibility to be addressed explicitly in many grant applications. More information can be found here.