Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - 01:18
Is it real or is it April Fools? The March 21st issue of Science has an interesting news article by Elizabeth Pennisi and a letter to the editor about a proposal to wikify GenBank. Currently, the NCBI holds the original authors responsible for editing or correcting entries and this does cause problems when those authors fail to return to the scene and fix what they've submitted. Some researchers are suggesting that third parties be allowed to fix some of those mistakes or at least add comments to records, to warn the unwary. There are some good arguments on both sides and it's certainly easy to see why the NCBI would be reluctant to take on the assignment of having to arbitrate disagreements between researchers. Besides, if we cleaned up GenBank, we'd lose charming entries (and great teaching examples) like this:
References: Elizabeth Pennisi, "Proposal to 'Wikify' GenBank Meets Stiff Resistance," Science 21 March 2008 319:1598 - 1599 (subscription required).