Investigating reproducibility and tracking provenance - A genomic workflow case study
AuthorKanwal, S; Khan, FZ; Lonie, A; Sinnott, RO
Source TitleBMC Bioinformatics
AffiliationComputing and Information Systems
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsKanwal, S., Khan, F. Z., Lonie, A. & Sinnott, R. O. (2017). Investigating reproducibility and tracking provenance - A genomic workflow case study. BMC BIOINFORMATICS, 18 (1), https://doi.org/10.1186/s12859-017-1747-0.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: Computational bioinformatics workflows are extensively used to analyse genomics data, with different approaches available to support implementation and execution of these workflows. Reproducibility is one of the core principles for any scientific workflow and remains a challenge, which is not fully addressed. This is due to incomplete understanding of reproducibility requirements and assumptions of workflow definition approaches. Provenance information should be tracked and used to capture all these requirements supporting reusability of existing workflows. RESULTS: We have implemented a complex but widely deployed bioinformatics workflow using three representative approaches to workflow definition and execution. Through implementation, we identified assumptions implicit in these approaches that ultimately produce insufficient documentation of workflow requirements resulting in failed execution of the workflow. This study proposes a set of recommendations that aims to mitigate these assumptions and guides the scientific community to accomplish reproducible science, hence addressing reproducibility crisis. CONCLUSIONS: Reproducing, adapting or even repeating a bioinformatics workflow in any environment requires substantial technical knowledge of the workflow execution environment, resolving analysis assumptions and rigorous compliance with reproducibility requirements. Towards these goals, we propose conclusive recommendations that along with an explicit declaration of workflow specification would result in enhanced reproducibility of computational genomic analyses.
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