Details: Biotechnology annual review. 2008; 14:29-61.
The increasing use of gene expression microarrays, and depositing of the resulting data into public repositories, means that more investigators are interested in using the technology either directly or through meta analysis of the publicly available data. The tools available for data analysis have generally been developed for use by experts in the field, making them difficult to use by the general research community. For those interested in entering the field, especially those without a background in statistics, it is difficult to understand why experimental results can be so variable. The purpose of this review is to go through the workflow of a typical microarray experiment, to show that decisions made at each step, from choice of platform through statistical analysis methods to biological interpretation, are all sources of this variability.