FairSubset: A tool to choose representative subsets of data for use with replicates or groups of different sample sizes

J Biol Methods. 2019 Sep 3;6(3):e118. doi: 10.14440/jbm.2019.299. eCollection 2019.


High-impact journals are promoting transparency of data. Modern scientific methods can be automated and produce disparate samples sizes. In many cases, it is desirable to retain identical or pre-defined sample sizes between replicates or groups. However, choosing which subset of originally acquired data that best matches the entirety of the data set without introducing bias is not trivial. Here, we released a free online tool, FairSubset, and its constituent Shiny App R code to subset data in an unbiased fashion. Subsets were set at the same N across samples and retained representative average and standard deviation information. The method can be used for quantitation of entire fields of view or other replicates without biasing the data pool toward large N samples. We showed examples of the tool's use with fluorescence data and DNA-damage related Comet tail quantitation. This FairSubset tool and the method to retain distribution information at the single-datum level may be considered for standardized use in fair publishing practices.

Keywords: automation; microscopy; normalization; statistics.