The MIRAGE (minimum information required for a glycomics experiment) initiative was founded in Seattle, WA, in November 2011 in order to develop guidelines for reporting the qualitative and quantitative results obtained by diverse types of glycomics analyses, including the conditions and techniques that were applied to prepare the glycans for analysis and generate the primary data along with the tools and parameters that were used to process and annotate this data. These guidelines must address a broad range of issues, as glycomics data are inherently complex and are generated using diverse methods, including mass spectrometry (MS), chromatography, glycan array-binding assays, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and other rapidly developing technologies. The acceptance of these guidelines by scientists conducting research on biological systems in which glycans have a significant role will facilitate the evaluation and reproduction of glycomics experiments and data that is reported in scientific journals and uploaded to glycomics databases. As a first step, MIRAGE guidelines for glycan analysis by MS have been recently published (Kolarich D, Rapp E, Struwe WB, Haslam SM, Zaia J., et al. 2013. The minimum information required for a glycomics experiment (MIRAGE) project – Improving the standards for reporting mass spectrometry-based glycoanalytic data. Mol. Cell Proteomics. 12:991-995), allowing them to be implemented and evaluated in the context of real-world glycobiology research. In this paper, we set out the historical context, organization structure and overarching objectives of the MIRAGE initiative.

The aim of the MIRAGE project is to improve the quality of glycomics data in the scientific literature. Researchers seeking to understand the biochemical structure–function relationships of carbohydrates require detailed descriptions of the assay conditions and the experimental results. Currently, these data are insufficiently reported in the literature.   Since 2011, the MIRAGE working group is supported and – together with scientists from the University of Georgia – coordinated by the Beilstein-Institut to establish guidelines for the data presentation for glycomics research.