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I am am physical scientist working in biology, and have recently started doing experiments. I would like a manual akin to "Numerical Recipes", but for the lab: straight forward, easy instructions on how to do the (100) most basic biology experiments - PCR, cloning, etc. I realize that a lot of these depend on kits, and specific equipment, but it seems like there still should be something that would give you the outline of how to do these experiments. Does anyone know of a resource like this?

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  • $\begingroup$ Kits are often a good way to do a basic procedure, but don't use them as black boxes, and learn how to make the buffers and buy the reagents individually because you can often save money doing it that way instead of buying more kits. Also allows you to modify the procedure to fit your research. $\endgroup$ – user137 Sep 29 '14 at 23:07
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Molecular Cloning is updated and in its 4th edition. Every lab used to have it. Its comprehensive, but really no book could be complete.

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Along with @shigeta's answer, I'd highly recommend Springer/Humana Press's series Methods in Molecular Biology, which started out as just a single collection of protocols (as I recall...) and is now a series of 1208 books, published between 1984 and 2015. There are a ton of protocols available online at places like Springer Protocols and Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, as well as at many locations across the 'net, with varying degrees of accuracy, reproducibility, and clarity. As you mentioned, you can do just about every molbio assay with a kit nowadays, and the manufacturer's websites (like Qiagen's) are often great resources, and frequently (but not always) include some scientific background as well, if you want to go back to the literature. There are also sites (some independent, some sponsored) that cater to specialized areas of research. For example, I work in immunology, and the Human Immunology Portal is a pretty good resource for basic and advanced protocols and assays.

So, there are quite a number of digital resources available, which I actually prefer because there is a greater chance that they are kept up-to-date, and will have new technological advances much more quickly than they are likely to show up in a revised edition of a book. Best of all, most of the online resources are free, and if you have academic access through your institution, you may be able to access some of the pay sites as well, such as the archives area from Cold Spring Harbor.

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