As a mod on Bio and CogSci I am faced with quite some posts that are overlapping in all three fields. In the field of Bioinformatics I see a lot of questions (relatively spoken, as the absolute number of hardcore bioinformatics questions is, well, relatively low on both sites so to speak :-) going unanswered, simply because we lack the expertise.

Now it's about electrophysiology related questions, as a recent example see How to analyse EEG files recorded from BVA?. So this specific question is on the analysis of EEG data, but I think we should gather ERP, ECoG, single-fiber recordings and what not in this realm too and try to address the global picture here.

Now I'm not talking about hardcore signal processing questions (different stack), but there are quite often questions like:

  • Program w gives output x, but I need output y for use in program z (data/file conversion issues);
  • I use program w that outputs x, but output parameter y is missing from x, where is it (OP screwed up settings and misses some output parameter)?
  • Or in case of the linked question, I use program w (EEGLab) and output x doesn't make sense (OP doesn't know what they are doing).

Are these sort of questions on topic and welcomed here?


1 Answer 1


My personal definition of bioinformatics has always been "any application of computers to answer biological questions". By that definition, what you're asking which essentially boils down to analyzing biological data in silico would indeed be on topic.

However, we are a very new site and our scope isn't yet as clear as it could be. Many of the young whippersnappers current crop of bioinformaticians seem to think that bioinformatics is only NGS analysis. We certainly have an over representation of NGS folks in our user base, anyway. This might mean that we will indeed become a resource primarily for NGS questions. I hope we won't since I think it would be a shame to limit our scope that way, but scope is something that grows out of community consensus so we'll just have to wait and see.

So, I would say that yes, they are on topic or, at least, they could be. This is my own personal opinion as a user, however, I am not expressing the view of the community or of the moderation team. But I would say bring them over and we'll see how they do. I fear most of them will probably not get useful answers but only because we don't have many users who're experts in that field. Still worth a try though.

  • $\begingroup$ That's awesome terdon. The thing is that this type of question won't be answered over at CogSci; we lack the expertise in that arena. I could migrate that type of question to Bio, but I doubt it will be received warmly over there. I know it would be better off here for sure. I promise the numbers are not so big so we won't be blemishing your nice and shiny %answered site stat ;-) Btw - congratz with your mod-ship here!! $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Nov 23, 2017 at 13:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AliceD you're welcome and right back at'cha :). I want to stress though that this is just my own opinion and not What The Mods Say® or anything. So the community might well decide that they're off topic. Still, we won't know unless we try. In any case, format conversion questions are often simple text parsing issues and those are explicitly on topic. So those, at least, should do fine here. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Nov 23, 2017 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ I understand it may be not everyone's pov. That's why I was a little hesitant to accept the answer up until the point I saw that shiny diamond >__< $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Nov 23, 2017 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ whippersnappers?? haha O.O $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Nov 23, 2017 at 21:25

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