Crystallography is no longer solely the preserve of the specialist, a situation that has implications for the operation of crystallographic service facilities. This mini-review provides an overview of the challenges in operating a crystallographic facility from the perspective and experience of the UK National Crystallography Service – a modern mid-range facility. Examples of chemical research generating the greatest challenges for the modern crystallography service and the state-of-the-art tools, hardware, facilities and expertise that are required to address them are highlighted. An overview of current research trends in single crystal diffraction research, which will ensure the future development of the technique, is presented. The remit of the service crystallographer is examined, together with proposed examples of best practice.
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