Assay Terminology

  • Assay type:
    • Standard assay: A flexible, general purpose assay that can be customized by an administrator to capture any sort of experimental data.
    • Specialty assays: Built-in assays for certain instruments or data formats, such as ELISA, Luminex, ELIspot, NAb, etc. These have specific data expectations and may offer custom dashboards or analysis behavior.
    • A developer may define and add a new assay type in a module if required.
  • Assay design: A specific named instance of an assay type, usually customized to include properties specific to a particular use or project. The design is like a pre-prepared map of how to interpret data imported from the instrument.
  • Assay run: Import of data from one instrument run using an assay design. Runs are created by researchers and lab technicians who enter values for properties specified in the design.
  • Assay batch: A set of runs uploaded in a single session. Some properties in a design apply to entire batches of runs.
  • Assay results or assay data: Individual data elements of the run, for example the intensity of a spot or well.

Assay Types

An assay type corresponds to a class of instrument, provider, or file format. For example, the ELISA assay type provides a basic framework for capturing experimental results from an ELISA instrument.

Assay Designs

An assay design is based on an assay type. When you create an assay design, you start with the basic framework provided by the type and customize it to the specifics of your experiment.

When you import instrument data into LabKey server, the assay design describes how to interpret the uploaded data, and what additional input to request about the run.

Included in the assay design are:

  • the column names
  • the column datatypes (integer, text, etc.)
  • optional validation or parsing/formatting information
  • customizable contextual data (also known as "metadata") about your assay, such as who ran the assay, on what instrument, and for which client/project.
To further streamline the process of creating the assay design you need, you can ask LabKey server to infer a best guess design when you upload a representative spreadsheet - then instead of declaring every column from scratch, you might need only edit labels or add non-standard or user-entered metadata fields. The process of inferring an assay design looks like the process for importing data into a list. You upload a file and accept or edit the best guesses LabKey makes.

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