Guide to Rigor and Reproducibility for Nanomedicines Characterization Core Facility (NCore)
The NCore is committed to providing researchers with tools to ensure their research is rigorous and reproducible. The following are specific ways in which we contribute to the rigor and reproducibility of research:
- Consult with the Core staff in the planning stage.
- NCore uses size, fluorescence and zeta potential standards to validate instrument performance weekly. Sample analysis performs in triplicates (NTA and ICP-MS samples runs with five replicates).
- NCore uses Trace Metals/HPLC grade reagents and materials for sample preparation/analysis. Please contact Core Staff if you require a materials certificates.
- NCore follows the NCI Assay Cascade Protocols for sample analysis and sample preparation.
- NCore provides individual training on all instruments to ensure researchers learn proper sample preparation and handling techniques as well as instrument operation.
- NCore performs weekly maintenance on all instruments and covers the most complex ones with service contracts. These actions contribute to stable and reliable instruments that can be used by trained scientists with confidence.
- NCore provides detailed SOPs to operate each instrument. All generated data will be stored in our Laboratory Data Management System. This system is capable of storing large amounts of complex data. All data are stored for one year after the analysis.
- If you are publishing data acquired using NCore instruments, please acknowledge us in your papers. Please include the following text in your publication acknowledgements: ‘The Nanomedicines Characterization Core Facility, Center of Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, UNC School of Pharmacy’. If you think that the NCore support of your research may be sufficient to merit authorship, take a look at these authorship guidelines from the ABRF.
While NCore can guarantee work directly undertaken by staff 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.
Eight Steps to Rigorous and Reproducible Experiments in Biomolecular Research at UNC:
- If using a Core facility, consult with the Core staff in the planning stage. Consult with a statistician if you need help developing a Power Analysis to ensure that your results will be adequately powered.
- Design your experiment with sufficient controls (rigor) and replicates (reproducibility).
- Ensure that ALL of your reagents (antibodies, cell lines, mice) are fully validated (see below).
- Have a clear and detailed protocol (SOP) and data analysis plan. Ensure that the protocol is strictly followed or that any deviation is well documented.
- Ensure that the staff or students performing the experiment are well trained and understand each step and the importance of performing them precisely.
- Use only well-maintained instrumentation, preferably maintained and operated in a Core facility with expert staff (see #1 above).
- Document all steps, reagents, equipment and data analysis methods used in the experiment. Ensure that the both the documentation and the data itself are properly stored in a safe data management repository.
- Acknowledge the Cancer Center Support Grant (P30 CA016086) (if applicable), other grants that support the Core, the Core (by name), and Core staff in publications.
Please note that the NIH now requires rigor and reproducibility to be addressed explicitly in many grant applications. More information can be found here.