Multiple testing corrections in quantitative proteomics: a useful but blunt tool

Dana Pascovici, David C L Handler, Jemma X. Wu, Paul A. Haynes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Multiple testing corrections are a useful tool for restricting the FDR, but can be blunt in the context of low power, as we demonstrate by a series of simple simulations. Unfortunately, in proteomics experiments low power can be common, driven by proteomics-specific issues like small effects due to ratio compression, and few replicates due to reagent high cost, instrument time availability and other issues; in such situations, most multiple testing corrections methods, if used with conventional thresholds, will fail to detect any true positives even when many exist. In this low power, medium scale situation, other methods such as effect size considerations or peptide-level calculations may be a more effective option, even if they do not offer the same theoretical guarantee of a low FDR. Thus, we aim to highlight in this article that proteomics presents some specific challenges to the standard multiple testing corrections methods, which should be employed as a useful tool but not be regarded as a required rubber stamp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2448-2453
Number of pages6
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


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