Biosharing now open for Australian researchers


Through cooperation with Dr Peter McQuilton, Knowledge Engineer/Senior Research Associate and content lead for the Biosharing project based at the University of Oxford’s e-Research Centre (OERC), Australia now has access to this terrific web-based catalogue of biological data standards, databases and policies. Peter’s work involves data curation, text-mining, ontology design, data sharing and publication in the life, natural and biomedical sciences. around data curation, text-mining, ontology design, data sharing and publication in the life, natural and biomedical sciences.

Before joining the OeRC, Peter spent ten years as a Biocurator at the University of Cambridge, working on FlyBase, an NIH/MRC-funded Model Organism Database focused on the genetics and genomics of Drosophila melanogaster (the fruitfly that bothers your wine/pint in the summer). He was involved in a number of projects relating to the extraction of genetic data from the published literature, text-mining, website design, and outreach/education. He obtained his PhD in Drosophila nervous system development from the Dept. of Genetics, University of Cambridge, where he worked in the lab of Dr Alicia Hidalgo  and a BSc (Hons) in Genetics from the University of Leeds, UK.

Peter took time out this week to explain what being involved with Biosharing will mean for us.

biosharing copy

Biosharing is a web-based, searchable portal of three interlinked registries, containing both in-house and crowd-sourced, manually curated descriptions of standards, databases and data policies, combined with views, collections and recommendations across all three registries.

Why does it matter now?

There are over 1000 databases and around 700 standards in the life and biomedical sciences. It’s often difficult to know which resources are out there, and which are most relevant to your specific domain or needs. Now, more than ever, health professionals, researchers, journal editors, funders and indeed, the database and standard developers themselves, need a way to discover what’s out there, and to see the links between them, to know where they should put their data, and in what format, to maximise it’s impact and re-use.

Who is it for?

Whether you are a researcher, standard/database developer, funder, journal editor, librarian or data manager, Biosharing can help you understand which standards are mature and appropriate to your use case. By mapping the relationships between standards and the databases that implement them, or the policies that recommend them, BioSharing enables you to make an informed decision as to which standard or database to use or endorse.

Who is using it and where?

Biosharing has an international and diverse user group composed of researchers, standard and database developers/curators, funding agencies, journal data editors, data managers and librarians.

How is it relevant to bioinformatics in Australia?

Australian bioinformatics is growing in capacity and influence and Australian bioinformaticians can leverage Biosharing to not only see what is already available, but to highlight their databases and standards to an international audience and link them into the Biosharing ecosystem, providing context and increased visibility for those resources.

How do researchers get involved?

Simply sign up for an account on Biosharing and add your resource! It couldn’t be easier. 

Where can I get more information?

Biosharing website 

Educational FAQs

Recent paper

EMBL-ABR re Standards


Biosharing: curated and crowd-sourced metadata standards, databases and data policies in the life sciences. McQuilton P, Gonzalez-Beltran A, Rocca-Serra P, Thurston M, Lister A, Maguire E, Sansone SA. Database 2016. DOI:10.1093/database/baw075