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Open Access item BioStar: An Online Question & Answer Resource for the Bioinformatics Community

Authors:Parnell, Laurence D.
Dall'Olio, Giovanni Marco
Albert, Istvan
Issue Date:27-Oct-2011
Publisher:Public Library of Science
Citation:PLoS Comput Biol 7(10): e1002216. (2011)
Abstract:Although the era of big data has produced many bioinformatics tools and databases, using them effectively often requires specialized knowledge. Many groups lack bioinformatics expertise, and frequently find that software documentation is inadequate while local colleagues may be overburdened or unfamiliar with specific applications. Too often, such problems create data analysis bottlenecks that hinder the progress of biological research. In order to help address this deficiency, we present BioStar, a forum based on the Stack Exchange platform where experts and those seeking solutions to problems of computational biology exchange ideas. The main strengths of BioStar are its large and active group of knowledgeable users, rapid response times, clear organization of questions and responses that limit discussion to the topic at hand, and ranking of questions and answers that help identify their usefulness. These rankings, based on community votes, also contribute to a reputation score for each user, which serves to keep expert contributors engaged. The BioStar community has helped to answer over 2,300 questions from over 1,400 users (as of June 10, 2011), and has played a critical role in enabling and expediting many research projects. BioStar can be accessed at http://www.biostars.org/.
Description:Parnell, Laurence D. et al.
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002216
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10261/44317
ISSN:1553-734X
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