Toward interoperable bioscience data published in Nature Genetics

Our commentary, named “Toward interoperable bioscience data” has just been released in Nature Genetics. In it, we focus on working towards an ISA commons, where one day we’ll all be able to share our experimental metadata in one common, easy to use format, supporting minimal information checklists and ontologies (via the ISA-Tab format and respective tools).

The editor speaks about the paper, paraphrased here:

“Reformatting data is a full-time job for many researchers, even before the minimum reporting guidelines, terminologies and formats of each field are taken into consideration. In this issue, we present a Commentary and a Perspective suggesting solutions to these problems that have been developed by a process of community consultation and open review to which the journal was a party. In the Commentary, Susanna-Assunta Sansone and colleagues identify one central problem, namely that “most repositories are designed for specific assay types, necessitating the fragmentation of complex datasets,” and they offer a unified view of the metadata formatting that will be needed to ensure that biomedical research datasets become interoperable. This solution is the overarching ISA framework, where the acronym stands for ‘Investigation’ (the project context), ‘Study’ (a unit of research) and ‘Assay’ (analytical measurement) (p 121). This proposal shifts the sets of reporting standards agreed upon by each community into the infrastructure and formatting of the data files themselves. Sansone and colleagues also list a set of participant communities that can pioneer the approach and teach by example.”

Many thanks to all who contributed to the paper and to the growing success of ISA (commons and tools).

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