Do you use antibodies in your research? Here at CiteAb we’re very enthusiastic about improving the reproducibility of research using reagents, so today we’re going to outline our top tips for citing antibodies.

In the past we have outlined the mistakes that our team often sees when trying to match the correct product to the correct citation in research papers, and the common issues that are encountered when citing the application and reactant.

CiteAb product manager Alicia spoke to us about citation problems. She said: “A study carried out by researchers in the USA and UK in 2013 found that ‘54 per cent of resources are not uniquely identifiable in publications, regardless of domain, journal impact factor or reporting requirements.’

This suggests that researchers are being too ambiguous in citing the use of antibodies, almost certainly because they’re not fully aware of how to best avoid the pitfalls. So here are my top tips to help out.”

Citing the product

  • The best way to ensure the antibody will be identifiable is to list all possible information next to the product, this is especially true for the catalogue code and company name.
  • If a catalogue code can’t be included, it’s important to ensure you include information such as the clone and conjugate. Here at CiteAb we won’t add an antibody citation for a monoclonal antibody if the catalogue code or clone aren’t specifically mentioned.
  • Adding the RRID can also act as an additional extra piece of information.
  • Avoid lists: listing out the antibodies used and then stating the company names at the end opens up for confusion and makes it impossible to see which product is from which company.
  • One of our favourite ways of seeing a citation is:
    Anti-protein A (clone, conjugate, catalogue code, company B)

Citing the application

  • The easiest way to see which application has been used for which antibody is to clearly cite the products using all the above information under the respective application paragraph.
  • It can get more confusing when the reagents fall under a section such as ‘antibodies used in this study’, and takes further delving into the figures to match the appropriate application.
  • Key experimental details: additional information such as mentioning the dilutions used for each antibody is helpful for researchers trying to reproduce your work, this is also something we now collect and display on CiteAb. It’s also important to include other non-standard experimental details, such as if an antibody requires a certain fixative or temperature, and clearly link this to the relevant product.

Citing the reactant

  • Where multiple species and cell lines are used within a paper, it’s key to be clear which species has been used with which experiment and set of products.
  • Often, we only see the species itself cited. However, it’s useful to also get information on the cell line or tissue/sample type too.

Tying it all together

Our number one favourite way to see products cited is in a table that gives detail on code, name, clone, conjugate, application, reactant and dilution. If this isn’t possible, then including all information possible will help increase reproducibility (and keep the CiteAb team happy!) by ensuring the resources used are easily identifiable.

Do you have anything to add to Alicia’s top tips? Or any questions about citing antibodies in your research? Drop Alicia an email as she’d like to hear from you.

– Rebecca and the CiteAb team