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A 10-step guide to party conversation for bioinformaticians

Alicia Oshlack

Author Affiliations

Bioinformatics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic, Australia

Genome Biology 2013, 14:104  doi:10.1186/gb-2013-14-1-104

Published: 29 January 2013

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

In Australia, December and January are part of the festive season. Summer is upon us and there is the mad preparation for Christmas while catching up with friends and family at barbecues, New Year's Eve parties and January beach holidays. At some social event or other (including ones at my own research institute) I inevitably get asked what I do. Responding with 'bioinformatics' is generally met with a blank stare or, in some cases, a slight edge towards a nearby door. Therefore, recently I have been working on tailoring my response so that at the end of an evening I still have people who are, firstly, willing to talk to me and, secondly, have some insight into what I do and why I find it interesting. Here I share a step-by-step guide that has helped me to convey some concept of my work to people not involved in the field, or even in science in general, when I am asked the question: 'So, what do you do?'