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The Biobehavioral Laboratory (BBL) is committed to providing investigators with tools to ensure their research is rigorous and reproducible.

Rigor

Rigor means following procedures that will increase the likelihood of obtaining an accurate representation of the phenomenon under study.

Reproducibility

Reproducibility means recording and communicating such procedures in a way that they can be replicated accurately.

Learn about the NIH Initiative to Enhance Reproducibility through Rigor and Transparency here or in this video.

Guide to Rigor and Reproducibility for the UNC School of Nursing Biobehavioral Laboratory

  1. Consult with the core staff in the planning stage for information about samples submission, processing, and reagents. We provide training for researchers and students on a regular basis and upon request.
  2. Prior to submitting samples, a complete inventory sheet is required. Please contact sonbbl@unc.edu or 966.7598 before bringing samples to the BBL.
  3. Follow best practices for sample collection in your experiments. Saliva collection recommendations are available here. Blood collection recommendations are available here.
  4. To improve the quality and reproducibility of experiments, the BBL uses established resources and vendors for all assays. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and protocols, including limits of detection are available at the BBL upon request. Coefficients of variation (CVs) for inter- and intra-assay variability for each test performed at the BBL are also available.
  5. If possible, all samples belonging to a project are processed within the same batch (to avoid batch bias) and with the same lot of reagents (to avoid lot-to-lot variations). Protocols used in the BBL are compliant with guidelines and SOPs provided by established vendors.
  6. General protocols for non-invasive measures and instrumentation use are also available upon request. These include but are not limited to: heart rate variability, arterial stiffness, and activity monitoring.
  7. Preventative maintenance of instruments in the BBL is conducted on an annual or semi-annual schedule.
  8. At least one BBL staff member is always available for consultations of any kind, or to troubleshoot problems with any instrument. If problems with an instrument or software are detected, the BBL staff will communicate it to any affected users. Similarly, we will communicate changes to any instrument or analysis software and make best efforts to maintain backwards compatibility.
  9. Detailed descriptions of experimental procedures including sample storage and processing are documented electronically and in notebooks. Instruments and settings used for all experiments are detailed with the associated experiment electronically and in laboratory notebooks.
  10. For experiments involving salivary markers, it is essential to use a laboratory that meets current standards for an experienced, qualified laboratory and a high-quality assay. The BBL is a Center of Excellence (COE) for Salimetrics™ saliva tests. We follow best practices recommended by the company.
  11. Consulting and training on behavioral studies and writing of papers to ensure proper description in methods sections are also provided by request.
  12. Please acknowledge the UNC BBL lab in your publications. For more information and guidelines, please visit: https://bbl.unc.edu/support-us/

Eight steps to Rigorous and Reproducible Experiments in Biomolecular Research at UNC 

  1. 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 assure that your results will be adequately powered.
  2. Design your experiment with sufficient controls (rigor) and replicates (reproducibility).
  3. Assure that ALL of your reagents (antibodies, cell lines, mice) are fully validated (see below).
  4. Have a clear and detailed protocol (SOP) and data analysis plan. Assure that the protocol is strictly followed or that any deviation is well documented.
  5. Assure that the staff or students performing the experiment are well trained and understand each step and the importance of performing them precisely.
  6. Use only well-maintained instrumentation, preferably maintained and operated in a core facility with expert staff (see #1 above).
  7. Document all steps, reagents, equipment and data analysis methods used in the experiment. Assure that the both the documentation and the data itself are properly stored in a safe data management repository.
  8. 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.

 Additional resources and FAQs