How Do I Cite The Antibodies I Use?

So you’ve found the antibodies that you need for your experiments, they've helped you get some great results and now you’re ready to write your paper. How do you report the antibodies you used, it should be easy right?

Perhaps not! What is surprising is that less than half of antibodies used in publications can even be identified, this makes it much more difficult for others to reproduce and build upon published work.

Below we've put together some simple guidelines to help you cite your antibodies and ensure others can understand what you did and most importantly reproduce your work. They are based on our recent publication on antibody reporting ( Helsby et al. ), so if you’d like more details and references, check it out.

Make sure the antibodies can be identified

This simple first step can easily be achieved for commercial antibodies by including the company and catalogue code. For academic antibodies suitable unique identifiers include; the name of the academic, the reference and if relevant the clone number. The Resource Identification Initiative offers an interesting alternative by providing unique identifiers for antibodies and other reagents.

Make it clear how the antibodies are used

If you've carried out several different types of experiments, make it clear which antibody was used in which application. You may also have used a number of cell lines isolated from different species, so if there is a possible cause for confusion, other scientists will love you if you make it easy and say which antibodies worked in which species.

Antibody validation

Help convince the reviewers and other readers that you know what you are doing by showing that the antibodies you've used have been validated. We think this is best done by citing published work or by carrying out validation and including it in your paper.

The Antibody Validation Collection is another useful reseource to be aware of. Recently launched by F1000Research, the collection aims to provide a platform for researchers to publish their antibody validation studies (regardless of outcome), and look up existing validation articles for antibodies of interest.

Bringing it all together

As with cracking eggs and baking cakes, there is always more than one way to do something! and there are many ways the above key information can be presented.

Here are our two suggestions:

Version 1

Western Blotting

Western blotting was carried out as follows . . . The following antibodies were used; mouse anti-protein A monoclonal antibody (Company B, catalogue number #1000) was used with human cells as validated in (Reference X).

Version 2

Materials

The following antibodies were used in this study; mouse anti-protein A monoclonal antibody (Company B, catalogue number #1000) was used for Western blotting and ELISA with human cells as validated in (Reference X).


The above examples are by no means hard and fast rules and should be adapted as required; for example details of batch number, dilution or epitope could be added where particularly important. This information could also be usefully presented in a table if allowed by the journal.

If you have any questions about best practices for citing antibodies in your work, or you think we might have missed something, please do drop us a message using the contact form or by emailing Matt at matt@citeab.com

~Andy and the CiteAb team


References


Reporting research antibody use: how to increase experimental reproducibility
in F1000Res on 23rd August 2013 by Helsby MA, Fenn JR and Chalmers AD.
PubMed® Id: 24358895


On the reproducibility of science: unique identification of research resources in the biomedical literature.
in PeerJ on 5th September by Vasilevsky NA, Brush MH, Paddock H, Ponting L, Tripathy SJ, Larocca GM, Haendel MA.
PubMed® Id: 24032093


The F1000Research Antibody Validation Article Collection
in F1000Res on 13th October 2014 by Helsby MA, Leung MY, Chalmers AD.
PubMed® Id: 25580229