Quality assurance and quality control processes: summary of a metabolomics community questionnaire
School of Science
The Metabolomics Society Data Quality Task Group (DQTG) developed a questionnaire regarding quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) to provide baseline information about current QA and QC practices applied in the international metabolomics community.
The DQTG has a long-term goal of promoting robust QA and QC in the metabolomics community through increased awareness via communication, outreach and education, and through the promotion of best working practices. An assessment of current QA and QC practices will serve as a foundation for future activities and development of appropriate guidelines.
QA was defined as the set of procedures that are performed in advance of analysis of samples and that are used to improve data quality. QC was defined as the set of activities that a laboratory does during or immediately after analysis that are applied to demonstrate the quality of project data. A questionnaire was developed that included 70 questions covering demographic information, QA approaches and QC approaches and allowed all respondents to answer a subset or all of the questions.
The DQTG questionnaire received 97 individual responses from 84 institutions in all fields of metabolomics covering NMR, LC-MS, GC-MS, and other analytical technologies.
There was a vast range of responses concerning the use of QA and QC approaches that indicated the limited availability of suitable training, lack of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to review and make decisions on quality, and limited use of standard reference materials (SRMs) as QC materials. The DQTG QA/QC questionnaire has for the first time demonstrated that QA and QC usage is not uniform across metabolomics laboratories. Here we present recommendations on how to address the issues concerning QA and QC measurements and reporting in metabolomics.