Most weeks our tip is a five-minute movie that quickly introduces you to a new resource, or a cool new function at an established resource. Occasionally we feature one of our full resource tutorial that is being made freely available through resource sponsorship of our training suite. In this week’s tip we provide access to one of our tutorials that is especially near and dear to our heart. It is a World Tour of Genomics Resources in which we explore a variety of publicly-available biomedical, bioinformatics and bioscience databases and other resources.
This tutorial is quite different from our usual ones. Generally we focus on a specific software resource and describe step-by-step how to use its functions such as how to do basic and advanced searches, how to understand and modify displays, where to find specific types of data such as FASTA sequences, etc. and even provide tips on ‘hidden features’ that power users even find useful and informative. This type of software training is absolutely critical.
But many people need an even earlier step: just the *awareness* that resources are available that might serve their needs. This tutorial fills that niche. We present a sampling of resources, all free to use, from each of 9 categories including: Analysis & Algorithms, Expression, Genome Browsers (for Eukaryotes and for Prokaryotes and Viruses), Genome Variation, Literature, Nucleotides, Pathways and Proteins. After the World Tour, which is the majority of the tutorial, we then describe how to use OpenHelix’s free search and learn portal to find bioscience resources most appropriate for your research needs. From this the tour transitions into a brief discussion of the format of our training materials and how to use them, and then ends with information about other learning resources that we provide.
This tutorial has been wildly popular whenever we’ve done it as a live seminar. At the NIH they actually had to lock the doors because we’d hit the capacity of the room, and people were turned away. In fact, it has been so popular that we decided to produce it as a full tutorial suite and release it as one of our free trainings so that anyone and everyone could learn about the breadth of great public software options available for free use.
In addition to this free tutorial, we also have published a paper entitled “OpenHelix: bioinformatics education outside of a different box” in a special issue of Briefings in Bioinformatics entitled “Special Issue: Education in Bioinformatics“. This paper describes a plethora of sources where researchers can access informal educational sources of learning on publicly available bioinformatics resources. The sources of information include a wide variety of formats including lists of resources, journals that regularly feature tool descriptions, and eLearning resources sources such as the MIT OpenCourseWare effort. If you know of other such resources that aren’t covered in our tour or paper, comment & let us know about them – we love to learn as much as we love to teach!
Quick link to World Tour of Genomics Resources tutorial here.
- Williams, J., Mangan, M., Perreault-Micale, C., Lathe, S., Sirohi, N., & Lathe, W. (2010). OpenHelix: bioinformatics education outside of a different box Briefings in Bioinformatics, 11 (6), 598-609 DOI: 10.1093/bib/bbq026