Have You Shared Your Data Yet?
In the last decade, advances in flow cytometry instrumentation and reagent technologies have enabled simultaneous single-cell measurement of surface and intracellular markers, including cellular activation markers, intracellular cytokines, immunological signaling, and cytoplasmic and nuclear cell cycle and transcription factors, thus positioning cytometry to play an even larger role in health care and medical research.
However, the rapid expansion of flow cytometry applications has outpaced the development of tools for storage, analysis, and data representation. In addition, datasets are usually not stored with an explicit link to experimental metadata, such as data analysis procedures, experimental conditions used, or information about the samples processed.
This link between data and metadata is crucial, as it facilitates better understanding of analysis approaches and reproducible research. When datasets are linked to figures and summaries through a detailed explanation of the sample processing and analysis pipeline, other scientists can increase the amount of detailed analysis that can be conducted on already collected data, re-examine and expand on biological results, and better reproduce and understand published findings.
ISAC developed FlowRepository.org, a public flow cytometry data repository, to address this shortcoming by facilitating the integrated review of datasets referenced in published literature with its associated metadata. Through FlowRepository, users can access, review, download, deposit, annotate, share, and analyze flow cytometry datasets. Since proper annotation is key to third-party interpretation, FlowRepository supports all annotation concepts specified by the Minimum Information about a Flow Cytometry Experiment (MIFlowCyt).
Since MIFlowCyt does not specify the format or the location of the required information, data submitters are not forced to provide all of their annotations on line. Information that exists in a manuscript does not necessarily need to be repeated in FlowRepository; however, the more information that is integrated with the dataset on line, the easier it is to locate and interpret the data and experimental findings by independent researchers.
For further information on how to use FlowRepository to explore, review, and retrieve public datasets, and to deposit and annotate data in compliance with the MIFlowCyt standard, visit: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/0471142956.cy1018s61/full.