BACKGROUND - Meta-analysis has become a popular approach for high-throughput genomic data analysis because it often can significantly increase power to detect biological signals or patterns in datasets. However, when using public-available databases for meta-analysis, duplication of samples is an often encountered problem, especially for gene expression data. Not removing duplicates could lead false positive finding, misleading clustering pattern or model over-fitting issue, etc in the subsequent data analysis.
RESULTS - We developed a Bioconductor package Dupchecker that efficiently identifies duplicated samples by generating MD5 fingerprints for raw data. A real data example was demonstrated to show the usage and output of the package.
CONCLUSIONS - Researchers may not pay enough attention to checking and removing duplicated samples, and then data contamination could make the results or conclusions from meta-analysis questionable. We suggest applying DupChecker to examine all gene expression data sets before any data analysis step.