Why, it seems like only 12 years since we read Mistaken Identifiers: Gene name errors can be introduced inadvertently when using Excel in bioinformatics.
And can it really be 4 years since we reviewed the topic of gene name corruption in Gene name errors and Excel: lessons not learned?
Well, here we are again in 2016 with Gene name errors are widespread in the scientific literature. This study examined 35 175 supplementary Excel data files from 3 597 published articles. Simple yet clever, isn’t it. I bet you wish you’d thought of doing that. I do. The conclusion: about 20% of articles have associated data files in which gene names have been corrupted by Excel.
We tell you not to use Excel. You counter with a host of reasons why you have to use Excel. None of them are good reasons. I don’t know what else to say. Except to reiterate that probably 80% or more of the data analyst’s time is spent on data cleaning and a good proportion of the dirt arises from avoidable errors.