Biocuration - mapping resources and needs

F1000Res. 2020 Sep 4:9:ELIXIR-1094. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.25413.2. eCollection 2020.


Background: Biocuration involves a variety of teams and individuals across the globe. However, they may not self-identify as biocurators, as they may be unaware of biocuration as a career path or because biocuration is only part of their role. The lack of a clear, up-to-date profile of biocuration creates challenges for organisations like ELIXIR, the ISB and GOBLET to systematically support biocurators and for biocurators themselves to develop their own careers. Therefore, the ELIXIR Training Platform launched an Implementation Study in order to i) identify communities of biocurators, ii) map the type of curation work being done, iii) assess biocuration training, and iv) draw a picture of biocuration career development. Methods: To achieve the goals of the study, we carried out a global survey on the nature of biocuration work, the tools and resources that are used, training that has been received and additional training needs. To examine these topics in more detail we ran workshop-based discussions at ISB Biocuration Conference 2019 and the ELIXIR All Hands Meeting 2019. We also had guided conversations with selected people from the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute. Results: The study illustrates that biocurators have diverse job titles, are highly skilled, perform a variety of activities and use a wide range of tools and resources. The study emphasises the need for training in programming and coding skills, but also highlights the difficulties curators face in terms of career development and community building. Conclusion: Biocurators themselves, as well as organisations like ELIXIR, GOBLET and ISB must work together towards structural change to overcome these difficulties. In this article we discuss recommendations to ensure that biocuration as a role is visible and valued, thereby helping biocurators to proceed with their career.

Keywords: Biocuration; Biocuration tools; Bioinformatics; Career development; Life Sciences; Training needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology*
  • Data Curation / methods*
  • Data Mining*
  • Humans

Grants and funding

This work was done in the context of an ELIXIR Implementation Study - Mapping the landscape of Biocuration in ELIXIR: Practice, capability and training requirements - linked to the ELIXIR Training Platform and was funded by the ELIXIR Hub.