STRidER, the STRs for Identity ENFSI Reference Database, is a curated, freely publicly available online allele frequency database, quality control (QC) and software platform for autosomal Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) developed under the endorsement of the International Society for Forensic Genetics. Continuous updates comprise additional STR loci and populations in the frequency database and many further STR-related aspects. One significant innovation is the autosomal STR data QC provided prior to publication of datasets. Such scrutiny was lacking previously, leaving QC to authors, reviewers and editors, which led to an unacceptably high error rate in scientific papers. The results from scrutinizing 184 STR datasets containing >177,000 individual genotypes submitted in the first two years of STRidER QC since 2017 revealed that about two-thirds of the STR datasets were either being withdrawn by the authors after initial feedback or rejected based on a conservative error rate. Almost no error-free submissions were received, which clearly shows that centralized QC and data curation are essential to maintain the high-quality standard required in forensic genetics. While many errors had minor impact on the resulting allele frequencies, multiple error categories were commonly found within single datasets. Several datasets contained serious flaws. We discuss the factors that caused the errors to draw the attention to redundant pitfalls and thus contribute to better quality of autosomal STR datasets and allele frequency reports.
Genes (Basel) 2020 11:901