We consider the generic problem of performing a global fit to many independent data sets each with a different overall multiplicative normalization uncertainty. We show that the methods in common use to treat multiplicative uncertainties lead to systematic biases. We develop a method which is unbiased, based on a self--consistent iterative procedure. We demonstrate the use of this method by applying it to the determination of parton distribution functions with the NNPDF methodology, which uses a Monte Carlo method for uncertainty estimation.
Bibliographical note33 pages, 5 figures: published version