Principles for merging terms
What is a GO term merge?
Term merges result from two or more terms being subsumed into a single term.
When are GO terms merged?
Common reasons to merge terms include:
- Terms have exactly the same meaning
- The meaning is too close to support consistent, distinct annotations
- The distinction between a parent and a child is not useful or necessary in the scope of GO
Care should be taken when merging terms that may be used elsewhere, because it may create false assertions (annotations), in particular NOT. Also if terms are used for logical definitions, then that may create incorrect assertions.
TO PROPOSE AT AN ANNOTATION CALL: Whenever possible, obsolete term with 'REPLACED BY' or 'CONSIDER' rather than merging terms. This would ensure that changes in GO would not impact external ontologies using GO terms in logical definitions.
What happens when GO terms are merged?
When terms are merged, e.g. term A and term B are merged into term A, the GO ID of term B is made an alternative (secondary) GO ID, and the term string is made a synonym. Secondary GO IDs remain in GO with the 'alt_id' tag.
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