Would you Leica bit of help? (a short guide to documenting microscopy image acquisition)

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In our latest “How To…” guide, we provide a customisable template for state-of-the-art documentation of image acquisition, as well as a sample Materials & Methods section for the writeup.

Recently, Teng-Leong Chew and colleagues at Janelia Farms put together a must-read guide to the documentation of microscopy image acquisition (read it – and you definitely should read it! – here). This is a really outstanding piece of Open Science that not only demystifies a lot of the witchcraft involved in obtaining images on modern fluorescence microscopes, but also explains why the precise documentation of that acquisition is so important.

As part of the article, the team provided a useful table summarising all the various elements that should be covered in the appropriate documentation of such experiments. 

To lower the activation energy even further, we’ve used that same table to set up a customisable template/checklist for image acquisition, based on the Leica DMI6000B that is the workhorse microscope at the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology here at the University of Würzburg. Users need only highlight the sections they’ve used during imaging, and enter details where indicated.

The template can be downloaded here.

Even if your in-house microscope isn’t a DMI6000B, it should still be fairly easy to substitute in the relevant hardware and settings appropriate to your rig. It’s worth noting that we have not yet completed the power density measurements advocated by the Janelia Farms team, and the template will itself be updated once we have those readings to hand. It’s likely to evolve further once it’s being used routinely.

In addition, we’ve also rolled all of these elements together to produce a customisable paragraph for the Materials & Methods section of your project report/thesis/paper. This can again be paraphrased as appropriate, and can be found at the end of the template document.

As ever, thoughts/comments/input very welcome, and we hope you find this as useful as we do.

Acknowledgements: Most of the work in assembling the template was done by Alyssa Borges, Fabian Link, and Bernardo Giabatti of the Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, University of Würzburg (@ZEB_UniWue). Power density measurements were made by Tim Krüger. External advice and input came from Teng-Leong Chew. The title of this posting is inspired by Walter Kerr’s immortal three-word review of the play “I am a camera”: “Me no Leica”.

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