Video Tip of the Week: figshare + GenoCAD = outreach

For this week’s video tip of the week, I’m going to highlight the services of figshare. Figshare is a terrific resource for storing data, posters, papers, slides, code, movies, and more. Nearly any sort of digital item that you may be creating as part of your research or research communications projects can be uploaded to figshare and delivered to the world. It’s permanent, citable, and people can download and comment about anything you provide.

I’ll highlight some of the basics of figshare, but you should learn more about them in a couple of ways. At their site you can see the summary of the features they offer, and you can also see the publication I have attached below that provides some of the history and conceptual framework for figshare.

As publication and outreach methods are changing, and researchers would like to get demonstrable credit for their output that may be outside of the traditional publication system, alternative metrics or altmetics are being developed to serve that. Figshare can let you assess how many people have seen your items, downloaded them, and eventually there will be a collections of links to the citations for them. It also makes it easier for people who use your stuff to credit you properly for them.

The specific example I’ll illustrate is the recent figshare files that Jean Peccoud and  his group created, and where we have provided the training slides, as a package of training materials for their software and site called GenoCAD. Eventually we’ll have a video and full training collection hosted on the OpenHelix site, but for now we wanted to get the slides out for people to look at. The training also requires folks to upload some data, so the data to use is provided. The exercises to complete the intro training are also posted there. Anyone can try them out, comment, and we can get feedback on them.

You’ll note on that page that we have updated the items more than once. But you’ll still have access to the older ones if you needed them. The page is permanent, and changes are traceable.

Using figshare as a mechanism for outreach, communication, and citation is so terrific for science communicators. Recently Stephen Turner initiated a plea to the bioinformatics and genomics communities to improve their behavior: Stop Hosting Data and Code on your Lab Website. People are expressing a lot of frustration when they can’t find the software some team has said they have used, the sample data, or the full data sets that they used for a publication or presentation.  We know postdocs move on, and that links break. But figshare can help solve that. Figshare is also handy for folks looking for the materials you provide or have described somewhere. And really–there’s just no excuse for not storing your data, code, and any other research related digital materials there. I’m looking at you Sasquatch genome team….

An introduction to the features of figshare can als be found in their video:

An introduction to figshare from figshare on Vimeo.

Do take a look at figshare, and start using it. It will benefit you, and the larger science community as well.

Quick links:


Stephen Turner’s plea to bioinformatics folks: Stop Hosting Data and Code on your Lab Website (By the way, Stephen also stored that blog post at figshare, so it has a handy citation you’ll also see below!)

GenoCAD training materials example on figshare:

GenoCAD website:

Peccoud Lab example of using figshare’s API to host the items:



Stop Hosting Data and Code on your Lab Website. Stephen Turner. figshare. Retrieved 18:22, Mar 19, 2013 (GMT)

Singh, J. (2011). FigShare Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics, 2 (2) DOI: 10.4103/0976-500X.81919

Cai, Y., Wilson, M., & Peccoud, J. (2010). GenoCAD for iGEM: a grammatical approach to the design of standard-compliant constructs Nucleic Acids Research, 38 (8), 2637-2644 DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkq086