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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/72989

Type: Journal article
Title: Re-thinking organisms: The impact of databases on model organism biology
Author: Leonelli, S.
Ankeny, R.
Citation: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 2012; 43(1):29-36
Publisher: Pergamon
Issue Date: 2012
ISSN: 1369-8486
1879-2499
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Sabina Leonelli, Rachel A. Ankeny
Abstract: Community databases have become crucial to the collection, ordering and retrieval of data gathered on model organisms, as well as to the ways in which these data are interpreted and used across a range of research contexts. This paper analyses the impact of community databases on research practices in model organism biology by focusing on the history and current use of four community databases: FlyBase, Mouse Genome Informatics, WormBase and The Arabidopsis Information Resource. We discuss the standards used by the curators of these databases for what counts as reliable evidence, acceptable terminology, appropriate experimental set-ups and adequate materials (e.g., specimens). On the one hand, these choices are informed by the collaborative research ethos characterising most model organism communities. On the other hand, the deployment of these standards in databases reinforces this ethos and gives it concrete and precise instantiations by shaping the skills, practices, values and background knowledge required of the database users. We conclude that the increasing reliance on community databases as vehicles to circulate data is having a major impact on how researchers conduct and communicate their research, which affects how they understand the biology of model organisms and its relation to the biology of other species.
Keywords: Database; Data; Model organism; Data-intensive science; Curator
Rights: Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
RMID: 0020117408
DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2011.10.003
Appears in Collections:Politics publications
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