published a geekish paper on reporting errors to scientific databases

We have published a commentary paper about reporting annotation errors to scientific databases. In this work we discussed the fact that the work of reporting annotation errors to a database is usually not acknowledged and not considered as a scientific activity, while in our opinion it should.

Let’s say that you encounter an error in the annotation of a gene in a scientific database. What would you do? Would you report the error to the maintainers so it can be fixed, or would you just pass by and go to another database? Most of the researchers that I know are not even aware that you can report errors to a scientific database, and when they encounter too many errors in a place, they just look for a better annotated resource. This approach is very negative, because the data on scientific databases does not improve as it could and this favors the fragmentation of annotations in many databases.

Moreover, in this paper we said that reports on error on scientific databases should be public and transparent. Let’s say that you find an error in the annotation in Reactome. How can you communicate this to the other people using the same resource? All the researchers using that data for their work will be affected. And on the other side, how do you know if the data that you are using is correct, or if someone else has found some incorrectness or outdated information?

The article is already available online:

?Dall’Olio, G. M., J. Bertranpetit, and H. Laayouni. The annotation and the usage of scientific databases could be improved with public issue tracker software. Database 2010 (December): baq035-baq035. doi:10.1093/database/baq035.

If you read it, please give me some comments about it here. I will publish another blog post later next week to explain better why we did write it and some personal comments.

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