Bioinformaticist Vs. Bioinformatician
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14.1 years ago
Science_Robot ★ 1.1k

I am in process of putting together my resume. I showed it to my friend.

The header says: Bioinformaticist

My friend told me that the proper term is Bioinformatician.

The dictionary says:

  • -ist: "A suffix denoting an adherent system of beliefs..." or "Denoting a member of a profession or business activity"

  • -ician: "Denoting a person skilled or concerned with a field or subject"

-ist is like:

  • artist
  • scientist

-ician is like:

  • technician
  • musician

The consensus seems to be that -ician is the correct suffix.

Are the two different things: -ician being someone who is more like a technician and -ist being more like a scientist?

subjective • 47k views
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14.1 years ago
Neilfws 49k

This is a perennial favourite question amongst bioinformaticians/bioinformaticists :-)

I don't think there is a correct answer. For example, why do we say "mathematician", yet we say "physicist"?

I think most people choose which sounds better, to their ear. For me, that choice is "bioinformatician".

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Maybe we say "physicist" because "physician" often refers to medical doctors? Which might bring it down to what most people use... Personally, I mostly hear people using bioinformatician.

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14.1 years ago
Hanif Khalak ★ 1.3k

Here's the Google face-off:

Wiktionary seems to agree - their definition of a Bioinformaticist is: a Bioinformatician.

My actual job title is bioinformatician, but weirdly enough the term that comes to my mind first is bioinformaticist. I believe the latter is earlier in usage, but the former has become more common.

It still occasionally happens that if you tell someone who has no idea about science whatsover that you are a physicist, they will accord great respect and deference and often ask you about their medical problem. Once they find out you're just a "scientist" their deference almost disappears and is replaced with either confusion or slight disdain.

This varies with culture, I'm sure. Go to any hospital nuclear medicine department, and see if you can spot any medical physicists wearing white lab coats.

Something similar may be involved in the semantics of -icist vs. -ician, possibly having to do with the tools vs. the tasks of the trade. Engineers and computists(!) obviously identify with the tool-making, and almost everyone accords them respect. However, more and more, I think that those who can take a biological research [data] topic and work through its solution with whatever tools work well, are becoming the thought leaders.

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14.1 years ago

Sorry but the term "bioinformatician" makes me cringe - long enough to sound pretentious without actually providing much insight into what that person actually does.

I would go with bioinformatics programmer/software developer/analyst/etc.

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14.1 years ago
User 59 13k

I've actually never come across anyone using the term 'bioinformaticist' to describe themselves in my professional career as a bioinformatician :)

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And let's not get into the computational biologist/bioinformatician debate :)

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Same here. I think one factor may have to do with the ease of pronunciation (that's is subjective as well).

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14.1 years ago

your question made me smile, because a few years ago I asked exactly the same on nodalpoint (cached version), which at the time was the best site to discuss bioinformatics; and a few years before, there it has been a poll at bioinformatics.org asking the same.

I prefer to use bioinformatician because it sounds better, and because I think it is more widely used. But it is perfectly fine to say bioinformaticist.

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14.1 years ago
Science_Robot ★ 1.1k

My friend Jayne who is a classicist and knows about etymology said:

I think it has something to do with the termination of the word. Bioinformatics lends itself better to bioinformatician, just as mathematician sounds better than mathematicist. I would assume that fields ending in -tics (e.g. statistics) universally sound better with -tician, as it seems to be a more natural progression from the termination of the word.

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Seriously though, a real exception would be geneticist.

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Except, of cource, a classician.

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14.1 years ago
Paulo Nuin ★ 3.7k

Just use the one the job position is advertising for. Doesn't really matter, those are just "semantics".

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yes, and only the semanticians will care...

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or semanticists ...

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Actually people involved in semantic web based data analysis will not care either. If the two are accepted to be identical we will just map one to the other. But if the two really have a different meaning, like the summarizing post now seems to indicate, we will really have to store two different concepts.

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14.1 years ago
User 5267 ▴ 110

Bioinformaticist is the normal word in English. Bioinformatician is what happens when you take the French word for computer scientist and stick "bio" on the front of it. It's quite normal in continental Europe.

A better criterion: both words are hideously ugly, but bioinformaticist does less violence to the rhythm of English. I prefer to refer to myself as a mathematician, a programmer, or a biologist, depending on what I'm doing at the moment.

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13.4 years ago

Since we are more and more involved in data integration or even modeling we will soon all be systems biologists anyway.

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23 months ago
Dan • 0

According to Google Trends "bioinformatician" is searched more and the gap has been growing steadily since 2010 - so that's probably a more widely used term. I use them interchangeably and am often surprised to see what pops out of my mouth at any given moment.

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