Message from ISCB

Explain Bioinformatics to Your Grandmother!

  • Virginie Bernard,

    Affiliation: Next Generation Sequencing Platform - ICGex, Curie Institute, Paris, France

  • Magali Michaut mail

    Affiliation: Computational Cancer Biology, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

  • Published: October 31, 2013
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003305

Reader Comments (6)

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Apology and explanation

Posted by magali on 18 Nov 2013 at 16:20 GMT

We are very happy that a broad readership has found interest in our article and about the positive feedback we got. However, it has also come to our attention that some readers were offended by the use of the term “grandmother” in the title of this article. We would like to apologise for that. It was certainly not intended to offend. The article is about explaining your research to other people, mostly a lay audience, but also to other scientists from different fields. Thus, explaining bioinformatics to someone does not mean that this person is not a scientist. The title was motivated by the difference in generation between young researchers and their grandparents, to whom it can be particularly challenging to explain bioinformatics given that it is a new discipline and they are less likely to be familiar with recent computational developments. We would like to highlight that, both being women, we are well aware of the gender equality issues in science, but this was not a point of discussion for the article. The title could equally contain “grandfather”, and we did not see a problem in choosing either. We settled on “grandmother” in the title particularly because of the quote from A. Einstein, “You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother”, which we refer to in our Conclusion. We would like to reiterate that the point of the article is about communicating science to lay people in general, and given that science is becoming marginalised in society this is of utmost importance.

Magali Michaut and Virginie Bernard

Competing interests declared: Authors of the article.