RRC-CMF: User Policies
The Confocal Microscopy Facility (CMF) is fully committed to meeting the imaging needs of local researchers. However, to best serve the entirety of the user base, the maintenance and care of the instrumentation must be a constant priority. Detailed below are the currently enforced policies that exist to keep the shared facility operating smoothly.
The CMF provides access to a variety of brightfield, widefield fluorescent, and confocal microscopy instrumentation on pay-per-use basis. All newer microscope systems are maintained under individual service contracts with the respective manufacturers to ensure continued, optimum performance. Researchers, technicians, students, or other academic personnel can be granted access to an instrument, but must have a valid Research Resources Center Account Number before any data collection can be carried out.
The CMF also reserves the right to refuse certain specimens or imaging practices that may have a negative impact on the instrument performance, or otherwise affects the accessibility for other users.
All of the instruments in active use within the CMF can be reserved via the online scheduler. Reservations are currently limited to 4 hours per day. Furthermore, users are not permitted to book an instrument for others if they will not be present during the allotted time. These guidelines are intended to avoid the monopolization of a single system by any individual laboratory.
Training and Assisted Use Policies
All new users and investigators who have a limited familiarity with a particular microscope system are required to receive training for the instrument before it can be independently operated. Such training is typically divided into a pair of 2-hour sessions (spaced no more than a week apart) to fully acclimate users to the system and its software. The CMF strives to keep these sessions as informal, easygoing, and collaborative experiences - and ones that can be completely customized according to the intended experimental endpoints.
Users who received informal training from other advanced users (and not CMF staff) are still required to demonstrate a working knowledge of each system for separate access to be granted.
For users pursuing certain highly-specific or single-use imaging approaches, the CMF is able to provide assisted use for any available instrument. However, such assistance is dependent on the availability of the CMF staff - and must therefore be requested at the time of instrument reservation.
Extended Use Policy
The standard hours of operation for the CMF are 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday - Friday, and the facility observes all university holidays. However, the use of some instruments beyond these regular hours may be granted to certain users if they have shown a proficiency in image acquisition and the handling the equipment. Be advised that it is generally easier to accommodate a reservation that extends past 5:00 P.M. than it is to prepare an instrument earlier than 9:00 A.M.
The CMF staff understands that the preparation of specimens must often be carefully timed to coincide with the reservation of an instrument - and that sometimes the poor viability of cells or tissues may necessitate the cancellation of a reservation window. However, a number of the CMF instruments are consistently in high demand, and a number of users find themselves delaying experiments to wait for an available time slot.
To fairly compromise between the two situations, the CMF must enforce a strict cancellation policy for each reservation made. A user may cancel a booking up to 12 hours before the start of the reservation time through the online scheduler with no cost or penalty.
Any cancellations made less than 12 hours from the start of the reservation time cannot be performed via the online scheduler. In these instances, a notice must be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org concerning the cancellation. A service fee of 1 hour rate of the instrument which user reserved will apply and be billed to the user's RRC account.
A missed reservation - or a failure to cancel any unused booking - will result in the entire original reservation being billed. In the event of a late start or delay to an appointment, the full reservation will also be charged.
The CMF requests that the use of the facility's instrumentation are acknowledged in any published papers. The following text provides an example of such an acknowledgement:
Portions of this work were carried out in the Confocal Microscopy Facility via the Research Resources Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
In addition, co-authorship of papers may be appropriate when a CMF staff member provides significant input to the research outcome or text for a detailed methods writeup. In other cases, a simple personal acknowledgement may be warranted.