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The Truth About Flow Cytometry Measurement Compensation

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The topic of compensation is a critical one for the cytometrist to understand. It requires adherence to some specific rules, an understanding of how the instrument works, and how fluorescence occurs. Poor or incorrect compensation can easily lead to incorrect conclusions, and decreases the reliability and robustness of the data generated.
It is critical to question the wisdom of the “Protocol’s Book” and understand that the “truths” in this book are not always correct anymore. The new user doesn’t necessarily know any differently, and for this reason there are suboptimal practices that permeate flow cytometry experiments to this day.

Understanding compensation, and being armed with the knowledge, allows the researcher to combat those fairytales that continue to make their rounds in science. It is time to put them to bed and move forward with a full understanding of the process.

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