Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Proteomics Standards Initiative -- Lets all get on the same page!

Jargon and acronyms are the bane of scientific understanding.  Ever popped in on a talk outside your field and felt like a moron?  Maybe that's just me, cause I feel dumb most of the time, but its something we're pretty bad about in this field.  Sure, it speeds up communication between us, but when we try to convey these thoughts to the people with the cool samples we have to find a way to drop the insider terms.

What is worse than internal jargon and standards that make communication outside our field harder?  When we aren't using the same terms and standards within our field!  Maybe I'm pessimistic, but I like the long view here.  I want this field to grow up and be everything it promises to be.  We've yet to realize that, and in order to do so, we need to get more money.  And in order to get more money we need to be reproducible, have great controls and solve awesome biological problems.

Obviously I'm not the only one on this page.  There are lots of groups trying to standardize everything.  HUPO is definitely a frontrunner.  The Proteomics Standards Initiative is a big push to unify how we talk about experiments, how we display data, and how we define what is significant.

A new paper detailing these standards is available here and is open access.  Now, the inner punk rocker in the back of my brain looks at this and recoils in disgust.  I love being the proteomics rock star just as much (okay, maybe more...I don't know...) as you guys do.  Its a whole lot more fun to pop in, solve a biological problem some shmuck's been working on for 10 years with gels and stuff in 5 minutes on an Orbitrap, check out early and go get some beer and some cool tattoos or piercings and call it a day (yes...this is how your average day unfolds in my head...don't ruin it for me!)  But the fact is we're all going to have to start following rules like QC and data sharing standards if we're going to make it to the next level.

Heck, if nothing else I think its becoming apparent that we're starting to run out of the easy problems...and places for piercings...

This is photoshopped, I'm sure.  Shoutout to @PastelBio for today's cool coffee read!

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