We recently talked in depth about what makes a really good antibody citation, and today we’re going a step further by taking a look at common issues we see when suppliers check the citations for the use of their antibodies in with applications and reactants.

There are lots of pitfalls that researchers can fall into when citing antibodies (our guide on how to cite an antibody tries to help) which can then make it hard for suppliers to work out how their products were used.

To understand the issues better, Katrina spoke to CiteAb product manager Alicia, who looks after our citation products, to find out what she sees through her work as the biggest citation challenges for applications and reactants.

Alicia, let’s start with applications. How are these usually cited in a paper?

Well often I see publications that will have used multiple applications, with each application using a different set of reagents, which can cause confusion in understanding the citations.

Can you explain the most common reasons for this confusion?

Yes for sure. I have seen cases when citations list all the applications used in the paper, but don’t necessarily ensure that the right product is being assigned to the right experiment. I also often see the potential for confusion when multiple products with the same name, but different conjugates are used – it’s unlikely that these will have been used for the same application so being clear on this is essential.

And how about in reactants, are the problems similar?

They are – again we frequently see multiple reactants used within the same publication, and reagents are usually used for different applications and with a different set of products, so it’s always worth checking that you’ve spotted the right one.

Are there any other issues associated with citing reactants that readers should be aware of?

It’s worth being mindful of xenografts/transplantation, I sometimes see the host species being chosen as the reactant where the antibody is actually targeted against the transplanted cells. Also – where cell lines are used, it’s always worth double checking the species of origin.

Finally, Alicia, could you give us your top tips for checking citations for quality?

Absolutely, yes. I recommend readers always:
1. Avoid ambiguity: We would not add the application/reactant if its not clear, just like we would rather miss citations than add ones where its not clear which product was used.
2. Look at the figures: searching for your product within the experimental images will help to ensure the correct application has been chosen.
3. Check the dilutions: sometimes, the methods section will list a range of dilutions. This can often be ambiguous as the exact dilution your product was utilised at is unclear.
4. Keep clones and conjugates in mind: often a clone will be specific to a species, or conjugates will be much more likely to be used in certain applications. It’s worth keeping this in mind when quality checking the citation.

What are your experiences of checking for citations for use of your antibodies with different applications or reactants? Have you, in the past, fallen foul of any of these issues that Alicia mentions? Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #citationproblems.

– Katrina and the CiteAb team