help with semiQ RT-PCR

Tracy Aquilla aquilla at
Fri Apr 26 11:51:01 EST 1996

In Article <1996Apr24.004515.25000 at>, bernard at
(Bernard Murray) wrote:
>Maybe you don't have to worry so much about standardisation when doing
>I do not agree with this myself but I think it sets a precedent
>that others can use to fend off referee's comments if a manuscript
>is stalled because of this problem.
>Basically a colleague of mine has recently had the go-ahead for the
>submission of a manuscript to the journal, Cancer Research, in which
>RT-PCR was used to detect the presence of RNA species without any form
>of standardisation (internal or external).  Also, only one concentration
>of RNA was used to get the (positive) result.
>        I believe that the rationale proceeds as follows;
[snip other reasons given]
>5)      If the presentation of the results makes it clear that this
>is semi-quantitative detection rather than an actual assay then these
>results are suitable for publication (analogies are drawn between this
>situation and that of publication of "preliminary" large-scale sequence

I don't believe there's really such a thing as "semi-quantitative". To me,
that's akin to semi-pregnant, semi-sterile, or semi-dead. Quantitative is an

>As I say I have strong objections to most of this but if the journal
>wants to accept it then I can't see people complaining.

Why not? I see this as accepting sub-standard quality data for publication,
and to me, at least, that's a very good reason to complain! Perhaps this
will have an impact on the perceived quality of the work published in Cancer
Research (the journal) in the future. I tend to doubt experimental data
which aren't supported with the appropriate rigorous controls. This 'trend'
really bothers me.

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