Open data genomics

Nature this week carries a story by Ewen Callaway titled, “The rise of the genome bloggers”. The main subject is Dienekes Pontikos, whose “Dodecad Ancestry Project” seeks to illuminate population structure in undersampled populations by using SNP data supplied by volunteers with results from commercial testing companies.

I like this quote:

But Pontikos sees little point in formally publishing his findings. "I can bypass them entirely, and have the entire world review what I write," he wrote in an e-mail. Indeed, comments on his blog "could you please provide the eigenvalues for the principal component analysis", for instance read like the niggling recommendations of a manuscript reviewer.

I’ve often found that the best reviews of my work come from blogs and readers, not from peer review itself. With a project like this, the most critical readings will come from the most interested community, which may be a broader public than the scientific community.

The article also points to other worthwhile efforts such as Eurogenes and Genomes Unzipped, which are beginning to make connections between academic and public research.