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Reporting of methods for automated devices: A systematic review and recommendation for studies using FlowCam for phytoplankton

Owen, B.M., Hallett, C.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-8844-3388, Cosgrove, J.J., Tweedley, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-2749-1060 and Moheimani, N.R.ORCID: 0000-0003-2310-4147 (2022) Reporting of methods for automated devices: A systematic review and recommendation for studies using FlowCam for phytoplankton. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods . Early View.

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Accurate and detailed reporting of methods is essential for scientific progress, yet it is widely accepted that authors across all scientific fields tend to provide insufficient methods detail. Given the recent proliferation of automated and semi-automated technologies for data collection, to address this widespread issue the details needed for interpretation and reproducibility for each specific technique first need to be identified. A systematic literature review assessed the comprehensiveness of method details reported by 116 peer-reviewed studies published between 2017 and 2020 using the FlowCam (a widely used imaging flow cytometer) to image phytoplankton, finding all to be lacking in critical details, inhibiting reproducibility, and limiting the veracity of some findings. Through this review and three case studies, we identify several key method details that should be reported by FlowCam studies to ensure their findings are credible, comparable, and replicable and illustrate the wide-reaching implications for not doing so. Future studies using FlowCam for phytoplankton analyses should ensure clear reporting of all relevant details relating to the FlowCam unit, sample preparation, run settings, post-processing of images, and the considered use of only verified measurement outputs. A methods reporting template is presented as a guideline intended to enhance the quality, interpretability, and repeatability of future FlowCam papers. The pervasiveness of inadequacies in FlowCam methods reporting identified here highlights how vital it is for users of any automated or semi-automated scientific technologies to have a clear understanding of the impact of all method details on their findings, and to report these details adequately.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems
Algae R&D Centre
Publisher: Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography.
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
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