Meet Your Match: Finding ‘omics Analysis Resources Using the HSLS Database/Tools Search

Wouldn’t it make your research life much easier if you had “the perfect tool” to help you analyze your ‘omics data? Sure, you could certainly use (or develop) your programming skills to create your own. However, before you go to all that effort, why not check to see if such a resource already exists?

Many different sources continually release new web-based resources for freely available bioinformatics software and biological databases, so it can be a challenge to locate them. The HSLS Molecular Biology Information Service (HSLS MolBio) has provided shortcuts to access such resources for years, and we recently updated our Database/Tools Search engine. Located in the middle of the HSLS MolBio homepage, use the prominent search bar to find molecular databases and software tools with a combined search of the Online Bioinformatics Resource Collection (OBRC), Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) Database/Web Server issues, and an HSLS MolBio-generated filtered PubMed search. Let us explore each of these sources.

The OBRC contains annotations and links to over 2,400 online bioinformatics databases and software tools. More details are available in the 2007 article, “OBRC-a one-stop gateway to online bioinformatics databases and software tools,” and the 2010 HSLS Update article, “Going Against Goliath: OBRC vs. Google.” Because of the tremendous growth in the number of available resources over the years, as well as the sudden disappearance of some of them, HSLS MolBio no longer manually curates the collection except to update or remove broken links. Most of the OBRC content originally came from the NAR Database/Web Server issues. The evolution of the OBRC to the Database/Tools Search thus includes an automated search of these NAR issues, now highlighted at the top of the query results page. NAR is a premier forum for databases (28 issues) and software (18 issues) supporting research into biochemical, biological, and physical aspects of nucleic acids and proteins involved in nucleic acid interactions/metabolism. To ensure as comprehensive a search for bioinformatics tools as possible, the Database/Tools Search results also include relevant resource articles identified by an automated PubMed search for databases/software/algorithms.

Database/Tools Search queries can be keywords, phrases (with quotation marks), and/or combinations. To refine the results, searchers can filter by Topic Cluster. This is a particularly useful feature, as you can not only search within clusters but also discover associations you may not have previously considered. We suggest playing around with the Database/Tools Search to reveal your “perfect tool”— use Ask A MolBio Specialist to let us know what you find or if we can help you with your search.

~Carrie Iwema