International Society for Biocuration
The recent years have witnessed major advances in the field of biology. Breakthroughs have occurred in high-throughput technology, genome sequencing, and structural biology which have led to an explosion of data that needs to be analyzed. Numerous databases currently exist that cover all aspects of the life sciences, including annotation of proteins and genes, protein structure, protein-protein interactions, or metabolic and signaling pathways. These aim to serve as a source of information to support experimental research scientists, and as a basis for computational analysis.
Annotated databases have one fundamental common element, biocuration: the transformation of data into an organized form. The goal of biocuration is achieved through the convergent endeavors of biocurators, software developers and researchers in bioinformatics. Curators of scientific data are highly qualified and experienced scientists who have published primary research in peer-reviewed journals prior to moving into the biocuration field. The value of annotated databases lies in the seamless integration of the scientific literature as well as large data sets, such that the knowledge is accurately represented and easy to access. In fact, these resources are central to the daily work of nearly all scientists.
Strong support from the research community, the journal publishers, and the funding agencies is indispensable for databases to continue to provide the valuable tools on which a large fraction of research vitally depends. Structured ways for biocurators and associated developers to increase the sharing of tools and ideas through conferences and high quality peer-reviewed publications need to be developed. This will improve data capture, representation, and analysis. Secondly, biocurators, researchers and publishers need to collaborate to facilitate data integration into public resources. Researchers should be encouraged to directly participate in annotation. This will lead to improved productivity and better quality of published papers as well as stronger integrity of the data represented in databases. Thirdly, funding agencies need to recognize the importance of database for basic research by providing increased and stable funding. Finally, the recognition of biocuration as a professional career path will ensure the continued recruitment of highly qualified scientists to this field, which benefits the wider world of biomedical sciences.
We propose to create an International Society for Biocurators. The mission of the Society will be as follows:
- Define the work of biocurators for the scientific community and the public funding agencies
- Propose a discussion forum for interested biocurators, developers, scientists and students
- Organize a regular meeting where biocurators will be able to present their work and discuss their projects
- Lobby to obtain increased and stable funding for biocuration resources that are essential to research
- Build a relationship with publishers and establish a link between researchers and databases through journal publishers
- Organize a regular workshop where new biocurators, or interested students can be trained in the use of the common tools needed for their work
- Provide documentation on the use of common database and bioinformatics tools.
- Provide gold standards for databases, such as the use of unique, traceable identifiers, use of shared tools, etc..
- Share documentation on standards and annotation procedures with the aim of developing standard operating procedures
- Foster connections with user communities to ensure that databases and accompanying tools meet specific user needs
- Maintain a biocurator job market forum