Every data-rich community research effort requires a clear plan for ensuring the quality of the data interpretation and comparability of analyses. To address this need within the Human Proteome Project (HPP) of the Human Proteome Organization (HUPO), we have developed through broad consultation a set of mass spectrometry data interpretation guidelines that should be applied to all HPP data contributions. For submission of manuscripts reporting HPP protein identification results, the guidelines are presented as a one-page checklist containing 15 essential points followed by two pages of expanded description of each. Here we present an overview of the guidelines and provide an in-depth description of each of the 15 elements to facilitate understanding of the intentions and rationale behind the guidelines, for both authors and reviewers. Broadly, these guidelines provide specific directions regarding how HPP data are to be submitted to mass spectrometry data repositories, how error analysis should be presented, and how detection of novel proteins should be supported with additional confirmatory evidence. These guidelines, developed by the HPP community, are presented to the broader scientific community for further discussion.
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