Most of the bioinformatics tools we examine are things that come into play downstream of an experiment. People wish to analyze their data, look at genes that popped up (or dropped down), visualize relationships, etc. So this week’s Video Tip tool is unusual–it’s software that helps people design the upstream pieces of their experiments.
Experimental Design Assistant is targeted at the proper design of animal research studies. Using animals carefully and responsibly includes well-designed experiments, because wasted experiments due to poor design is something researchers should want to avoid. It’s bad animal welfare practice, and it’s also expensive. The EDA folks describe this very nicely on a background piece linked on their site.
Because of the way they have their Vimeo settings, I can’t embed their video here. You’ll have to click to watch it on their site: https://eda.nc3rs.org.uk/guide-tutorials
The 13 minute video is a nice overview of how the workflow will guide you. They recommend that you start with some of their templates that might be similar to your research goals, and edit that. They show you how to start with a blank canvas or a template in the video. They illustrate how you can set up different groups of animals, denote some kind of pharmaceutical intervention or treatment–in the case they show it’s different light cycles. You can establish doses or other variables that are appropriate. Then you move on to a “Measurement” node. They demonstrate that only the right connections in the diagrams can be made, or you get warnings. Then an outcome node can be added. There’s a way to add numerous variables and other experimental details that need to be accounted for.
Other shorter tutorials cover other pieces–like critiquing your experiment, power calculation and randomization sequence, exporting/importing and sharing the diagrams you create.
This is a different but really useful kind of biology software tool. I think it could be great in teaching situations as well. You should check it out.
Experimental Design Assistant: http://eda.nc3rs.org.uk/
Videos page: https://eda.nc3rs.org.uk/guide-tutorials
Cressey, D. (2016). Web tool aims to reduce flaws in animal studies Nature, 531 (7592), 128-128 DOI: 10.1038/531128a