Together with the molecular knowledge of genes and proteins, biological images promise to significantly enhance the scientific understanding of complex cellular systems and to advance predictive and personalized therapeutic products for human health. For this potential to be realized, quality-assured image data must be shared among labs at a global scale to be compared, pooled, and reanalyzed, thus unleashing untold potential beyond the original purpose for which the data was generated. There are two broad sets of requirements to enable image data sharing in the life sciences. One set of requirements is articulated in the companion White Paper entitled Enabling Global Image Data Sharing in the Life Sciences, which is published in parallel and addresses the need to build the cyberinfrastructure for sharing the digital array data. In this White Paper, we detail a broad set of requirements, which involves collecting, managing, presenting, and propagating contextual information essential to assess the quality, understand the content, interpret the scientific implications, and reuse image data in the context of the experimental details. We start by providing an overview of the main lessons learned to date through international community activities, which have recently made considerable progress toward generating community standard practices for imaging Quality Control (QC) and metadata. We then provide a clear set of recommendations for amplifying this work. The driving goal is to address remaining challenges and democratize access to everyday practices and tools for a spectrum of biomedical researchers, regardless of their expertise, access to resources, and geographical location.

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