Customer Review

98 of 125 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing from the viewpoint of a computer scientist..., March 19, 2005
This review is from: Bioinformatics For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) (Paperback)
I hold a masters degree in computer sciences (so in fact I am a biology dummy), but always had a strong interest for sciences. So I want to delve deeply into this fascinating area, but first wanted to read a book to quickly introduce me the basic concepts. With this background, I must say the book is a little bit disappointing. You can clearly see that this book is written with the biologist in mind, definitely not the computer scientist.

The biological concepts are not explained very well for a biology dummy, let me explain you why :

1. Some basic biological concepts are not explained. I wanted to have some more explanation on the basic concepts of how molecular and cell biology works. A lot of times, the autors tell you how to use some tool, but is not always clearly explained to me why, for what purpose they use the tool. For instance they explain how to find a list of related protein sequences, but for me it is not clear why biologists need to have such a list. And this is only one example, I could give much more simular examples...

2. Remember guys, I am a dummy, so please explain me the difference between a gene and a genome before using these terms. And also, I heard about chromosomes, but why do you not explain what is it exactly ?. Also, there are a lot of explanations on how to work with RNA, but please explain me more about the functional difference between RNA and DNA.

3. The explanations on how to use serveral internet tools are too wordy, they spent several pages explaining things that are so intuitively clear like "click this or that button", "use menu file, edit, copy to past your stuff to the computer clipboard"....

4. A lot of complex terms are or not explained the first time they use it ("phylogenic"). Sometimes these terms are explained further in the book, but from a didactical standpoint, you should at least give an informal definition when you first use some concepts...

Conclusion: I currently read the first hundred pages of the book and maybe I will change this review later on. But I can already tell : the first chapters might be well suited for a computer dummy, but definitely not for a biology dummy. However with some help of the internet(for instance there is an excellent explanation on how cells work at the howstuffworks website [...] I will continue to read the book further. Maybe after that I will need to change my preview...
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 12, 2006 11:17:34 AM PDT
Booklover says:
Maybe you should first read Biology for Dummies! Honestly, this is a good handy reference book for people like us who have to troll through unmanageable haystacks of databases to find the needle we are looking for - If a computer guy wants to know about what algorithms go into making these bioinformatics tools instead of how to use them, it is pretty obvious that he shouldn't pick up a book that clearly says "for dummies".

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 21, 2007 4:43:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2007 4:49:21 PM PDT
Doc Dave says:
The reviewer makes valid points, and I believe it is fair to say that the book is probably better suited for computer "dummies" than life science "dummies." In addition, given the fact that the reviewer is a computer scientist, I felt that he or she showed admirable restraint in not extensively bashing this book for its weaknesses on that end. I am among the computer dummy readers, and I agree that too many words are wasted in describing things that are intuitively clear (e.g. cutting and pasting, selecting a particular button in an application). The biological shortcomings of this book didn't affect my understanding of the material because my background is in molecular biology. Nevertheless, the reviewer is absolutely right to say that selected relevant concepts of molecular biology and typical research processes should be better explained. Sure, reading biology and/or genetics and/or molecular biology for dummies might help, however if that is necessary to understand the material in the present book then it really can't be argued that it lives up to the goals implied by its title.

Posted on Jun 15, 2010 2:19:52 PM PDT
Well man, I would say... if you are a biology dummy... how about buying biology for dummies? or genetics for dummies? lol I mean... this is bioinformatics... there are plenty of other dummy books that explain those things you have trouble with

Posted on Apr 15, 2011 5:08:30 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 15, 2011 5:09:08 AM PDT
I have a CS background and am looking for a book written with CS person in mind. Were you able to find one?
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