Science papers with Excel errors

Data are contained in millions of spreadsheets, and everybody working with Excel-files has already experienced some peculiarities. This is not only a problem for the exchange of data, since often the formulas used for calculating the values in fields are exported and not the values themselves. Snafus and bugs also an obstacle for sciences like economics or genomics, because the complex values at times are misinterpreted; “SEPT2”, which corresponds to the gene Septin 2, is read by Excel as “September 2nd”. A recent study in the journal Genome Biology investigated papers published between 2005 and 2015, and identified an astonishing proportion of spreadsheet-related errors in them. This poses a real challenge for subsequent scientists who try to build on previously published research results.


Jörg Lehmann, FUB

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