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Review a tool and enter to win an exciting prize

Checking the reviews section has become an integral component of the software selection process. When they are used strategically, positive reviews can really help identify the most accurate solutions.  As a community-driven platform, we need your input to review the must-have tools. Rules are simple: Post a review for a tool and enter to win a tablet. Don’t hang around, the contest ends the 5th of October. Why is your review important? Software review is an helpful process to assist developers in validating the quality of a project. It is also a great input for scientists that want to make informed decisions. Reviews offer a double advantage. As a user, you can rapidly identify which tools perform the best based on your peers’ experience. …

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Best bioinformatics software for mass-cytometry analysis

Conventional flow cytometry is limited by the number of fluorochromes and cell markers that can be targeted at once. Overcoming this limitation, mass-cytometry combines mass-spectrometry and flow cytometry by using metal-conjugated antibodies to label cellular proteins and extend the number of markers to be targeted.   A combination of spectrometry and cytometry   In mass-cytometry, antibodies are conjugated with isotopically pure elements, and these antibodies are used to label cellular proteins. Cells are nebulized and sent through an argonplasma, which ionizes the metal-conjugated antibodies. The metal signals are then analyzed by a time-of-flight mass spectrometer. The approach overcomes limitations of spectral overlap in flow cytometry by utilizing discrete isotopes as a reporter system instead of traditional fluorophores which have broad emission spectra.   Due to its numerous advantages (minimal …

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DataOnTools #6: omicX features

With more than 29,000 entities, omicX is the largest collection of bioinformatics tools. Our classification system allows to easily find and identify the tools you need. We conclude our series by providing some data analysis on the omicX collection. Tool categorization system   Software tools and database are classified in one main category among transcriptomics, genomics, phenomics, metabolomics, proteomics and epigenomics. Then, they are labelled in one or more of the 2,000 subcategories. To explore the categories, check our interactive figure (Figure 1, available online).     Obsolescence in bioinformatics tools   Tools are developed continuously, and usually hosted on institution servers and corporate websites. Eventually, their URLs will not be maintained and the tool will become inaccessible, obsolete.   omicX scans tools …

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DataOnTools #5: Tools in the literature

Scientific communications and publications are the best way to promote your work – whether you are a tool developer or a bioinformatician conducting analysis. In this article, we analyze tools publications to explore a new aspect of the evolution of the field of bioinformatics.   Tool publications and citation   In the omicX database, nearly eight out of ten have been published in a peer-reviewed journal, with 41.7% of all tools cited at least once, while 36.0% have never been cited in the literature (Figure 1a). Among those with a PMID, about half of them have never been cited in the literature, and the other half has been cited at least once. This is of importance because citations are the …

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Introducing our new bioinformatics protocols

As a biologist, you probably know that the key to good data analysis is the selection and use of appropriate software. Owing to the increasing complexity of biological data, the number of tools typically required to perform an analysis is constantly growing, rendering the selection of software even more difficult. Indeed, finding the best series of tools that match your analysis criteria is challenging.   A protocol is a series of software presented in a logical order. With your data as a starting point, a protocol shows you the right pathway of tools to perform your analysis.   Until now, finding the optimal workflow was very challenging because bioinformatics analyses are difficult to decipher or remain buried in the masses of biomedical texts. To face this big …

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DataOnTools #4: Evolution of tool specifications

When it comes to developing a bioinformatics software tool, many different languages can be used. Moreover, developers might have to choose on which operating systems among the most used they want their creation to be run. Finally, the target audience of the software (personal use, free distribution or commercial distribution) may influence the usage of the software (web interface, desktop, etc.).   Users can run bioinformatics software tools either on the web, locally on a desktop or server, or both. While tools that can be used on the web could be expected to be more common, reflecting the need for user-friendliness for less-skilled users, we in fact found that more than 69% of the 20,918 tools registered as software are …

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DataOnTools #3: Economics of tool development

Like any other research field, bioinformatics and software development are highly depend on funding. By extracting grants and other funding sources from tool publication, we provide a new insight on the economics of tool development.   Funding is a critical aspect of tool development. We ranked the sources of funding agencies associated with a total of 12,761 published tools to assess the top 20 tool-funding agencies worldwide (Figure 1). Nearly half of all published tools were funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF), both US-based agencies.     Countries’ themselves take a critical role in funding research through national grants. Indeed figure 2 shows a high correlation (r=0.81; p<0.0001) between a country’s research …

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DataOnTools #2: Tool development and collaboration worldwide

Bioinformatics tools are developed by research laboratories, university, and private companies that often publish their work in scientific journals. In fact, nearly 80% of all tools registered on omicX have a PMID, and thus are accompanied with a scientific publication. By tracking authors affiliations, we provide a unique perspective on worldwide tool development and collaboration between countries.   Tool development worldwide   Tool development and publication is dominated by the USA, with 30% of published tools originating from US institutions (Figure 1a and b).     Most leading tool-developing institutions are hosted by European and American continents, with 18 out of the top 20 tool-developing institutes and universities located in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, or rest of Europe (Figure 2). …

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