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Writing ideas for FocalPlane

Posted by , on 16 December 2021

FocalPlane is an online meeting place to connect people, products, resources, and information from the microscopy community. Featuring news, interviews, blog series, tools, job listings, events and a webinar series, this is a community site for anybody interested in imaging: microscopists and non-microscopists. The site is driven by content written by the community. Once registered, you are free to post and contribute without requiring prior authorisation or approval. To help structure your FocalPlane post, here are some general guidelines.

First of all, there is no word limit – you can keep it short to ensure it’s engaging and succinct. If you think your post could be longer than 2500 words, you might want to consider breaking it up into different posts or creating a blog series (https://focalplane.biologists.com/blog-series/).

The content and format of your posts are very much up to you but below you’ll find suggested guidelines for some of our most common post types, as well as instructions on how to create your post on WordPress:

Tools

Describe in detail a specific imaging tool (e.g. fluorophores, detectors), microscopy technique or bioimage analysis tool.

Every month, a bioimage analysis tool will be highlighted as ‘Tool of the month’ in the social media platforms to engage readers in the life-sciences community who might not be familiar with it and could potentially benefit from it.

Here is an effective outline you can use to structure your piece:

  • Background: why did you develop this tool? What were the existing problems or limitations?
  • Describe the bioimage analysis tool in lay language.
  • How do you use this tool? You can include screenshots to show the features of the tool or embed ‘walk-through’ videos. You can also show an example of how this tool was used to address a specific scientific question.
  • Can it be used in combination with other tools?
  • If there are other similar tools, how is this one different?
  • Are there any limitations?
  • What’s next? Any plans to include more features?

Here are a few examples:

Behind the paper

The idea of this type of post is to share with the FocalPlane community your recent publication in more detail, focusing especially on the technical parts that are usually not covered in the paper.

Consider addressing some or all of these points in your post:

  • Is there an interesting backstory behind the project?
  • Describe the main findings of your paper in lay language.
  • What question(s) were you trying to answer using microscopy?
  • Which microscopy techniques did you use?
  • What technical problems and challenges did you face? These might include:
    • sample preparation and mounting
    • imaging: photobleaching, toxicity, low temporal or spatial resolution, etc.
    • data storage
    • bioimage analysis: segmentation, cell tracking, etc.
  • How did you overcome these problems/challenges?
  • Did you develop a new protocol? If so, explain it in detail.

Here are some examples:

How to

In this type of post, you can describe a specific staining or imaging method or protocol that you developed for your project or that you’re an expert on.

You can use an outline similar to the one suggested in the ‘Tools’ section.

Here are some examples:

Catching up with the literature

The idea of this post is to create a list of the ‘must read’ papers – classic or recent publications – everyone should know about before getting started on a specific topic.

Here is an example on super-resolution microscopy.

Research highlight

A new paper just came out that impressed you? Write a ‘research highlight’ about it. This is a great opportunity to practice your scientific communication skills, especially when writing about a field outside of your core experience.

Here is an outline you could use:

  • Background/introduction 
  • Key points of the paper/main findings. How did microscopy contribute to these findings?
  • Why is this paper interesting for the microscopy community?
  • Wider context
  • Questions to authors

Here is an example: Microgametogenesis in four dimensions live-cell imaging of this highly dynamic process in P. falciparum.

Meeting report

Have you attended a meeting recently? Write a post to share your experience and the highlights/conclusions of the event.

Here are some topics you can cover in your post:

  • What was the topic of the meeting?
  • Was an in-person, hybrid, or virtual event? Share your experience on how it worked.
  • How many speakers and people attended the event?
  • How it was organised? Different sessions, talks, discussion panels, etc.
  • What were the highlights of the meeting? Comment on exciting new results presented, interesting discussions raised, etc., rather than just listing what each person spoke about.
  • Any conclusions or future directions discussed at the meeting?
  • Consider adding links to the recording or any other interesting resources related to the event.

Here is a meeting report on a phototoxicity meeting held in January 2021.

Do you have any other suggestions? Contact us! We’d love to hear your ideas. If you’re interested in writing for FocalPlane, check the FAQs section (‘Posting’) for more information. Also, feel free to contact us – we’re happy to help at any point of the process, from talking through ideas to defining an outline to helping with editing and formatting the final post.




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