Journal Article

Databases, data tombs and dust in the wind

Jonathan D. Wren and Alex Bateman

in Bioinformatics

Volume 24, issue 19, pages 2127-2128
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 1367-4803
Published online September 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2059 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bioinformatics/btn464
Databases, data tombs and dust in the wind

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Contact: jdwren@gmail.com

As biomedical data accumulates, the need to store, share and organize it grows. Consequently, the number of Internet-accessible databases has been rapidly growing on an annual basis. Bioinformatics regularly publishes descriptions of biomedically relevant databases, Nucleic Acids Research has published an annual database issue since 1996 and now a new open-access journal, Database: The Journal of Biological Databases and Curation, will soon be launched by Oxford University Press in 2009 (http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/databa/). Since databases can be made publicly available on the Internet without publication, it is worth considering what factors prioritize publication of database descriptions in a peer-reviewed journal. In general, publication of a database description in a journal advertises it as a valuable resource for scientific research. Implicitly, it is assumed that this resource is publicly available (most likely for free) and will be maintained. However, therein lies the problem: Database papers are simply not of the same nature as regular research articles. Over time, some databases simply become inaccessible, some are created but not maintained or updated, and some databases are never used (Galperin, 2006). Thus, for database creators, reviewers and journal editors, there are several additional considerations to judge, prior to publication, how potentially valuable these new databases may be.

Journal Article.  1332 words. 

Subjects: Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

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