I'd like to pose a question to the biological community here about data analysis tools for flow cytometry. Initially, I was thinking of posting something like this:

Alternatives to commercially available flow cytometric analysis software?

I know that many labs use either FlowJo or FCS Express to plot and analyze their flow data. These seem like the two standards for most labs (and I have used FlowJo before). However, my current funding does not cover software licenses and I'm not keen to pay $500-2000 out-of-pocket for a license. Are there alternatives that approach the quality of FlowJo/FCS Express but are open-source/free with an academic license? Tools including cell cycle analysis would be particularly helpful.

Looking at the on-topic page, my question doesn't seem to fall into either of these categories:

Which questions are off-topic?

  • personal medical questions and health advice
  • philosophical or ethical questions related to biology

However, the don't-ask page warns against some subjective questions and says that only "constructive" subjective questions are allowed.

Is my question appropriate? If not, how can I improve it so that it is?

Edit: Thanks for the feedback! I improved and posted the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would say it is on-topic, it is about technical equipment used for bio research. $\endgroup$
    – Chris Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 20:28

1 Answer 1


Recommendation questions are generally problematic on SE sites, but we haven't actually ruled them off-topic on this site.

I would recommend to formulate it a bit differently, and not simply ask for a tool but for a way to solve your problem. Questions that are written as tool recommendations encourage very short answers that are not much more than a link to a tool that might solve your problem. A question that presents your problem and asks for a solution can often encourage longer answers that provide more background and an explanation on how to use the proper tool.

We don't want to end up with a bunch of answers that all simply link to some tool that might solve this problem, without any further explanation. But if we get an answer that would describe a proper workflow for analysis with free tools that would be rather useful.


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