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Last active Dec 7, 2015
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A brief style guide for writing about molecular biology
Use genetic terminology in a consistent way
...but do not necessarily complain if others do not---do not be pedantic!
- Data are plural.
- Do not refer to a 'datum'---refer to a data point.
- One or datasets can be described as large.
Avoid the phrase 'big data'.
- Proteins are not 'expressed'; genes are.
- refer instead to translation or (recombinant) protein production
- There are no 'mutant proteins'---mutation refers to changes in
nucleic acid sequence.
- refer instead to modified/altered/substituted protein
- Avoid referring to "reverse genetics",
unless you are specifically trying to draw a contrast
to forward genetics in some way.
- 'Wild-type' is an adjective,
the 'wild type' is a noun.
Avoid abbreviating when space allows.
- Do not use the adjective "post-genomic",
e.g. in referring to the "post-genomic era".
- This is meant to refer to the period of time
after a good reference genome has been obtained,
but it ends up sounding like the genome has ceased to exist!
- "Genomics era" would be better,
but in general one should not define "eras" at all---it sounds
grandiose and pretentious.
Let historians define meaningful eras later.
- Do not refer to "next generation" sequencing
(or "next generation" anything else for that matter).
- People have been publishing short-read sequencing datasets since 2005!
- It is much better to refer to specific technologies
- If you absolutely must group technologies,
it is better refer to second- and third-generation sequencing.
- Do not use the phrase "fake data" for simulated data.
If you diagram predicted results (with graphs),
clearly label them as /expected/ results.
Do not include blot or plant images in such figures:
use cartoon versions instead.
- Do not refer to "the dark matter of biology"
or "the dark matter of the genome" etc.
The phrase is a cliché.
Consider the OBO naming guidelines, especially Table 1:
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