The problem has been known for over a decade in the scientific community and it is fairly simple to understand. The problem arises when Excel, with default settings, converts gene symbols into Calendar dates. For example, Septin 2 can be written as SEPT2, which Excel will automatically change into "September 2" using its default settings.
Despite the issue being noted by the scientific community in 2004, the problem has not only persisted but has gotten worse. The study, conducted by Baker IDI, notes that the instances of the problem have increased at an annual rate of 15 percent over the past five years alone.
After scanning through 3,597 published scientific papers, the researchers found that 704 of them contained gene naming errors created by Excel, or possibly by a number of similar software with the same feature, including OpenOffice Calc.
The feature that turns entries into Caldendar dates can be turned off in the Excel settings quite easily.
Sources and Recommended Reading:
Microsoft Excel blamed for gene study errors: www.bbc.co.uk
Gene name errors are widespread in the scientific literature: genomebiology.biomedcentral.com
Written by: James Delahunty @ 25 Aug 2016 11:27