Lab equipment like microscopes, electrophysiology rigs or lasers are big capital equipment spends for neuroscientists. If you have precious grant money to spend you want to make sure you are getting the best equipment you can afford. The decisions you make now about which equipment to buy could determine the science you are able to do for the next five to ten years, and also affect your ability to publish. You need quality, value and reliability. And, you may also need support and reassurance that you are buying the right equipment for your needs.
Similarly, cheaper items like consumables, slicers, new objectives or software may not make as big a dent in your budget, but they directly impact on the daily work of your lab. After all, the quality of your experiment is dependent on the quality of your preparation. And, the ability to extract the data from the experiment at the highest resolution goes in hand with this.
1. Buy from scientists to have confidence in your lab equipment purchases
A good way to purchase equipment is to trial it first. By reaching out to companies and asking to trial or demo their systems you can ensure that whatever kit you need is suitable for your research purposes.
Another way to minimize risk when buying equipment is to buy from people that understand your research goals and experimental setup. By buying from companies that employ scientists experienced in your field of research, you can be reassured you will get the support you need when making those big purchases.
MCI-Neuroscience’s Co-Founder and CEO, Sias Jordaan explains their company’s philosophy: “Our company’s goal is to accompany neuroscientists from application to publication.”
“Our application scientists have had their boots on the ground in labs. That is to say, we actively recruit scientists with years of laboratory experience to support researchers buying and installing equipment. In effect, we employ experts to support experts.”
By interacting with people that understand the processes of science from designing the experiment to obtaining and analyzing the data, to preparing the manuscript for submission, you can be certain your research needs are going to be met by the equipment you are buying.
2. Get support when buying, installing and maintaining your equipment
A sometimes overlooked aspect of scientific purchases is the level of support you will get from equipment companies. If your kit suddenly stops working, how are you going to continue your research? If it is not installed properly in the first place, how were you ever going to perform your experiments?
Always remember to ask what the levels of support are like before you purchase equipment. As Sias explains: “Support is critical for scientists. To publish in high impact journals, scientists need to have performed varied experiments using multiple types of specialist equipment. It is rare that one scientist can have an expert knowledge of the workings of all the equipment used. Therefore, having a good level of support from specialists is essential.”
Sias adds: “It is not unreasonable to ask for support and training on any equipment purchased. At MCI-Neuroscience our application scientists and specialists will train people in the use of all our equipment. We even train scientists in how to perform surgeries on experimental animals in order to carry out their experiments.”
3. Buy with your future science in mind
When spending large sums on big capital equipment, it’s important to consider if you should buy a complete system that works off the shelf, but has limited flexibility, or go for a build-it-yourself option where you assemble the component parts? The latter is normally the cheapest option and offers more flexibility, but it can take more time to install than a plug and play option. Whichever will work for you depends on your requirements. Talking to other scientists will help you reach a decision on which way to go.
The ultimate solution would be a halfway option, where the complete system allows for customisation or is flexible to the needs of the scientists.
Companies like MCI-Neuroscience now work towards this goal when developing their equipment. As Sias explains: “Our R&D team is conscious of the needs of every type of user when designing our equipment. We want our customers to be able to use their new equipment for its purpose from day one, and we want them to still be using it years later. We like to provide our customers with solutions that can grow with them as their research needs change over time.”
Whatever your research needs, when you buy equipment it’s important to consider how confident you are the equipment you are purchasing will enable you to fulfill your research needs. It is also important to ensure you get the support and training you need. And, it is crucial that you future-proof yourself and your group by purchasing equipment that is flexible to the needs of the lab.
Further information on MCI-Neuroscience’s products can be found here: www.MCI-Neuroscience.com