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Developing Bioinformatics Computer Skills by Cynthia Gibas, Per Jambeck

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Chapter 6. Biological Research on the Web

The Internet has completely changed the way scientists search for and exchange information. Data that once had to be communicated on paper is now digitized and distributed from centralized databases. Journals are now published online. And nearly every research group has a web page offering everything from reprints to software downloads to data to automated data-processing services.

A simple web search for the word bioinformatics yields tens of thousands of results. The information you want may be number 345 in the list or it may not be found at all. Where can you go to find only the useful software and data, and scientific articles? You won't always get there by a simple web search. How can you judge which information is useful? Publication on the Web gives information an appearance of authority it may not merit. How can you judge if software will give the type of results you need and perform its function correctly?

In this chapter we examine the art of finding information on the Web. We cover search engines and searching, where to find scientific articles and software, and how to use the classic online information sources such as PubMed. And once you've located your information, we help you figure out how to use it. Among the largest sources of information for biologists are the public biological databases. We discuss the history of the public databases, data annotation, the various forms the data can take, and how to get data in and out. ...

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