- Microsoft is finally addressing an Excel feature called Automatic Data Conversion that has caused errors in scientific research for nearly two decades.
- The feature would convert certain human gene names into dates, creating massive errors in scientific papers.
- By 2020, the governing body behind gene naming had updated 27 gene names to prevent confusion in Excel.
- Excel users can now disable this feature by personalizing the program’s auto-correcting functions.
Microsoft recently made an update to an Excel feature known as Automatic Data Conversion that had long caused scientists a great deal of headache. Specifically, this feature would automatically convert certain human gene names into dates without their knowledge, leading to significant errors in research studies. For instance, when entering Septin-1 as “SEPT1” into Excel sheets it would assume they meant September 1 and change accordingly causing serious mistakes that had large-scale repercussions in scientific investigations. These seemingly minor inaccuracies can have severe ramifications on scientific endeavors.
An analysis of 10,000 scientific papers published between 2014 and 2020 on genes revealed that over 30% contained gene name errors caused by Microsoft Excel’s Automatic Data Conversion feature, creating significant errors in scientific research. As this issue became so pervasive, the governing body responsible for gene naming took steps. By 2020 they had revised 27 gene names so as to avoid confusion within Microsoft Excel such as replacing SEPT1 with SEPTIN1 among others.
Excel users now have an effective solution for controlling this troublesome feature of the software: by clicking “File,” selecting “Options,” and finally choosing “Data,” users can customize Excel’s auto-correcting functions and finally disable Automatic Data Conversion to prevent further misinterpretations of gene names.
Microsoft’s move to address the Automatic Data Conversion feature in Excel represents an essential advancement for scientific research. Now that researchers can disable this feature, researchers can be assured that gene names won’t be wrongly converted into dates during future studies – helping ensure their integrity and accuracy of scientific study. This update marks an essential step in maintaining accurate scientific research practices.