Guest post: Genomics has a spreadsheet problem

Mandhri Abeysooriya

Surveys show spreadsheets are the most widely used analytical tool in academic research. But they are prone to errors. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Public Health England lost 16,000 test results after using an old Excel file format to handle data. Whether this mix-up hampered local infection control is anybody’s guess, but it certainly could have. 

The software is causing trouble for other lines of research, too, as our team and others have shown: Genomics studies that rely on Excel spreadsheets to manage data turn out to be riddled with erroneous gene names, or gene-name errors, and the issue is affecting more and more journals.

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