FocalPlane Network: Frequently Asked Questions

FocalPlane Network: Frequently Asked Questions

If you can’t find your question in this list, just email us at For more details about how the project was conceived and developed, see our information page.

1. Using FocalPlane Network

2. Becoming a member of FocalPlane Network

3. Miscellaneous questions

1. Using FocalPlane Network

What is the purpose of FocalPlane Network?

The FocalPlane Network is designed to help you find researchers with microscopy expertise (e.g. developers, imaging scientists, bioimage analysts and cell biologists) for professional purposes, for example to give talks, review papers or join panels. You can search and filter for members by geography, scientific expertise and aspects of diversity (such as gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ+ status and disability status). We hope that the FocalPlane Network will serve as an aide to diversity and inclusivity, but it is not limited to that goal.

How do I access FocalPlane Network? Why do I have to register?

To access the FocalPlane Network you need to first register on FocalPlane and then request access on your profile page. A registration step was put in place to deter spammers and because the FocalPlane Network contains personal information (including information classified as sensitive/‘special category’ by European GDPR legislation). When requesting access, you have two options: (1) to view the Network and/or (2) enter your details to be a member of the Network.

I’m not interested in diversity – is FocalPlane Network still for me?

Yes, the FocalPlane Network is for everyone. It can be used both exclusively based on science and with diversity in mind. Membership of the Network does not require you divulge any sensitive or diversity information. Indeed, we imagine that most users of the FocalPlane Network will be interested primarily in your scientific profile.

How do I use FocalPlane Network?

The Network is a table of members sorted alphabetically by surname and showing their minimal information – click anywhere on the text to expand the member’s details and to reach the contact form. The Network is fully searchable as well as filterable on the basis of scientific field, area of expertise, position, country, gender and racial/ethnic, LGBTQ+ and disability status. Please see our Acceptable Use Policy and Code of Conduct for more information on appropriate use of the Network.

Can I download information from FocalPlane Network?

No, all information is only available as the listing online. We expect the FocalPlane Network to expand and change over time and we want to be sure that users only have access to the most up-to-date information.

How do I contact someone whose details I find in FocalPlane Network?

Simply click on the ‘contact’ button in the member’s details and you will be taken to the contact form where you will be asked to include a subject and a message. The member will receive an email containing this text and the sender’s email address (this is the email address associated with your FocalPlane account). Further correspondence will be independent of the FocalPlane Network.

I think someone’s details might be out of date – what should I do?

Email us at and we will contact them directly to check.

2. Becoming a member of FocalPlane Network

Why should I enter myself into the Network? What’s in it for me?

If you want to be part of a global directory of researchers and are happy to be contacted by other researchers for scientific or professional purposes, the FocalPlane Network is for you. You might be someone’s ideal conference speaker, panel member, reviewer, or even collaborator – the idea behind the Network is to make you easier to find. You can consider it a way of promoting your profile and getting your name out there in the microscopy community.

Who can become a member of FocalPlane Network and how do I sign up?

Anyone in the microscopy community, at any stage in their career, can become a member. To join, you first need to register for an account on FocalPlane. Once you have an account, or if you have one already, you can then choose to be a user and/or a member on your profile page. Member requests will be dealt with manually, which may take a couple of days (we screen each entry in case of spam).

What information do I need to provide to become a member?

The mandatory information required for membership is name, institution, country of institution, scientific field, area of expertise and position. Non-mandatory information includes additional scientific keywords, lab/personal webpage, X handle, ORCiD, Google Scholar profile, as well as the following sensitive diversity information: gender, racial/ethnic group, LGBTQ+ and disability status.

You’re asking me to divulge sensitive information – why should I do this and how are you protecting my data?

Sensitive information is shared entirely voluntarily. We ask that you only share sensitive information if you are happy to be contacted by registered users of the Network on the basis of this.

Any data you provide will be held on our secure servers and will be retained indefinitely until you amend or remove your profile (see below). Users need to register to access the directory and are not able to download data. Moreover, we do not share email addresses publicly. If you have any questions or concerns about how your data are handled, please contact us. Please refer to our Privacy Policy for further information.

Someone has contacted me maliciously or inappropriately: what should I do?

Please email us at

Contacting a member of the FocalPlane Network requires use of the contact form, and while we do not monitor these contacts, we will keep a record of them for 3 months in case of any reported problems. Only registered users can use the contact form, and they must agree to use the Network only for scientific/professional purposes. Any person not adhering to these terms and our other policies may be withdrawn from being able to access the FocalPlane Network and where necessary details may be passed on to the relevant authorities.

How will the Company of Biologists use my data? Will I now receive lots of marketing emails from you?

Your data will be used solely for inclusion in the FocalPlane Network and will not be used for marketing purposes. We will, however, need to email you with occasional service updates about the FocalPlane Network.

Employees of The Company of Biologists may use the FocalPlane Network in the same way as other users – to look for potential speakers, Board members, referees or authors of review-type articles. Where we contact you on the basis of information provided within the FocalPlane Network, we will let you know that this is our source of information.

How do I change or delete my details from FocalPlane Network?

You can update your details at any time via your profile page. If you want to delete yourself from the Network, simply untick the box that says ‘I would like to enter myself into the FocalPlane Network’ in your profile page, and then save your profile. Your details will shortly be removed from the Network and from our systems. If you wish to join the Network once more, you will have to enter your details again.

I’m not a research scientist – can I join?

Yes, the Network is entirely inclusive, and so if you consider yourself part of the microscopy community, you are more than welcome to add yourself. While conceived primarily for researchers, the Network may develop as a useful tool to find other professionals involved in the field: editors, writers, even artists!

Microscope manufacturers and other imaging companies are an important part of the microscopy community. Professionals working in this field are also welcome to join the Network, however contacting members of the FocalPlane Network should not be for marketing purposes.

3. Miscellaneous questions

Help – I’m having problems gaining access to or becoming a member of FocalPlane Network!

We’re sorry you’re having trouble. Please just drop us an email at and we’ll try and resolve your issues as soon as possible.

I want to make a complaint about FocalPlane Network – how do I do it?

Email us at and we will respond to your complaint as soon as we can.

Contact us

Do you have a question or suggestion for the FocalPlane team?

Updated on 13 May 2024