Choosing the right name for a bioinformatics tool

The do’s and don’ts

  1. Don’t take a name that already exists

Your tool is unique. As such, it deserves to have a sole name. Don’t try to copy the name of a famous tool or your favorite one. It can be detrimental for you. Indeed, people tend to compare products with each other, especially if they have the same title. They can be confused about the function of your tool.


omicX contains more than 169 tools sharing the same name. For example, if you type in “STAR” in the search engine, its returns more than 20 tools with a similar name (STAR3D, STARLIMS, STARchip, etc).


To avoid these kind of problems, mind to check the state-of-the-art before starting your project. You can make a request on our search engine (omicX is the biggest repository of tools) to see if the denomination you have in mind is already taken and published.


  1. Don’t select a tool function, or a general term


You might think that choosing a general term like “DNA” will give you more visibility. In fact, it is the other way around. Biocurators have more difficulties to scan and find your tool if its name remains buried in the masses of text. That’s why, it is important to properly choose the name of  your tool so it can be rapidly identified.


You must avoid name with a definition, or a signification, but also those which refers to a scientific word (example : seXY, PROLINE, ISOLATE, PRICE). Nowadays, the semantic Web is not only for humans but for robots, which make a classification using algorithms.  In this way, if your tool name already exists in various contexts, you decrease your potential success to be viewed.


  1. Don’t write a name that contains punctuation (example: Trim Galore!)

When there is too much punctuation, it is touchier to stand out from the tool pool. Moreover, it is less attractive for the potential users. Avoid putting a dot, a slash, a space or a comma. If you really need to separate two words, using a hyphen is more judicious. This is justified by the fact that the search engine ranks words without punctuation more easily, and because punctuation and its meaning differs across languages.

The appropriate name for your bioinformatic tool must be


  1. Easy to remember

A name that is easy to remember has enhanced awareness. If people reminisce your tool, they can more conveniently promote it.


  1. Simple to pronounce by a large audience

By choosing a name that is easy to pronounce you encourage the community to share and spread it by word of mouth.


  1. Short

It is better if you tool name doesn’t contain more than one word.

Examples of great tool names in omicX


  • MEDOC. This tool name is an acronym and not a generic word. Moreover, its description “MEDline DOwloading Contrivance” is very explicit. It is easy to memorize, pronounceable, short, not a category name, and this tool title doesn’t exist.
  • CLARI-TE. This is a good example. There are two words separated by a hyphen. We understand the meaning related to “clarity” and the acronym “TE” which signify transposable elements.
  • FlyBase. An attractive name, simple, easy to remember


The benefits of a good tool name

If you find the best name for your tool, you have the opportunity to:

  • be cited
  • influence people to choose your tool
  • make your work more visible among potential competitors


In a nutshell, you have everything to earn in choosing a name carefully.