A global perspective on bioinformatics training needs

TitleA global perspective on bioinformatics training needs
Publication TypeWeb Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsBrazas MD, Brooksbank C, Jimenez RC, Blackford S, Palagi PM, J Rivas DLas, Ouellette BFF, Kumuthini J, Korpelainen E, Lewitter F, van Gelder CWG, Mulder N, Corpas M, Schneider MV, Tan TW, Clements D, Davies D, Attwood TK
Series TitleBioRXiv
CityCold Spring Harbor
Type of MediumPre-print
KeywordsBioinformatics training, global survey

In the last decade, life-science research has become increasingly data-intensive and computational. Nevertheless, basic bioinformatics and data stewardship are still only rarely taught in life-science degree programmes, creating a widening skills gap that spans educational levels and career roles. To better understand this situation, we ran surveys to determine how the skills dearth is affecting the need for bioinformatics training worldwide. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we found that respondents wanted more short courses to help boost their expertise and confidence in data analysis and interpretation. However, it was evident that most respondents appreciated their need for training only after designing their experiments and collecting their data. This is clearly rather late in the research workflow, and suboptimal from a training perspective, as skills acquired to address a specific need at a particular time are seldom retained, engendering a cycle of low confidence in trainees. To ensure that such skill gaps do not continue to create barriers to the progress of research, we argue that universities should strive to bring their life-science curricula into the digital-data era. Meanwhile, the demand for point-of-need training in bioinformatics and data stewardship will grow. While this situation persists, international groups like GOBLET are increasing their efforts to enlarge the community of trainers and quench the global thirst for bioinformatics training.