In a typical shotgun proteomics experiment, a significant number of high-quality MS/MS spectra remain "unassigned." The main focus of this work is to improve our understanding of various sources of unassigned high-quality spectra. To achieve this, we designed an iterative computational approach for more efficient interrogation of MS/MS data. The method involves multiple stages of database searching with different search parameters, spectral library searching, blind searching for modified peptides, and genomic database searching. The method is applied to a large publicly available shotgun proteomic data set.