The NCBI Minute: quick introductions to NCBI resources


For over two years, NCBI has presented webinars on a wide range of topics to a growing audience. More recently, we began offering shorter webinars in a series called The NCBI Minute.

These presentations introduce a new NCBI tool or resource or provide quick tips for using a popular resource in 5-10 minutes.

screenshot of popular NCBI Minute presentations on YouTube

Figure 1. Examples of popular NCBI Minute presentations; SmartBLAST Introduction presented September 2 (YouTube), and Connecting with PubMed Commons presented May 2 (YouTube).

Each NCBI Minute is recorded and posted on our YouTube channel in the NCBI Minute playlist. Two of our most popular NCBI Minute presentations (Figure 1) are the introduction to the new SmartBLAST service, first described on NCBI Insights in July, and Connecting with PubMed Commons, our public commenting service for PubMed articles described in several NCBI Insights posts.

Missed a presentation? No problem!

If you missed any of The NCBI Minute, there are two ways you can catch up:

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SRA Toolkit: the SRA database at your fingertips


The Sequence Read Archive (SRA), NCBI’s largest growing repository of molecular data, archives raw sequencing data and alignment information from high-throughput sequencing platforms, including Roche 454 GS Systems®, Illumina’s Genome Analyzer®, and Complete Genomics® systems.

Researchers commonly use SRA data to make discoveries via comparison of data sets. Data sets can be compared through the SRA web interface, but if you want to integrate these downloads and file conversions into an already existing pipeline, or you simply prefer using a command-line interface, we recommend using the SRA Toolkit.

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Fine-tune your web-based search results with SRA Run Selector


Run Selector is a tool available through the Sequence Read Archive (SRA) that allows you to fine-tune your web-based search results. There are over two dozen fields that can be used to filter SRA data in Run Selector. For example, if you need to look at data from a particular sequencing platform and genome assembly, you can use these fields as filters.

After running a web-based search for any keyword in the SRA database, users can dump all the results (up to a maximum of 20,000 experiments) into the Run Selector for fine-tuning. In addition, Run Selector shows you how many runs fall into each of the categories even before a filtering category is selected, allowing you to investigate the data further by noting what is contained within the database.

post 2 fig 1 run results

Figure 1. After searching with SRA, click on “Send to” to open the drop-down menu. Then click on the radio button labeled “Run Selector” to send your search results to Run Selector. Note that you can already see how many runs are in each of the categories to the left.

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