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Peer Review

Reactome - a knowledgebase of biological processes



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Feb 02, 2014 by Biology Editorial Board
Overview: The Reactome represents a physiologist/cell biologist’s playground. Metabolic pathways offer a unique challenge to students and scientists alike. It can be difficult to visualize a pathway. The Reactome offers a peer-reviewed database for examining human metabolic processes. While the main portion of the site focuses on human processes, there is a way to compare human processes with other major organisms from other phyla, many of which are considered model organisms. The ability to analyze expression data and download Reactome data make this application a very useful and well developed website.
Type of Material: This material is presented as an interactive metabolic pathway.
Recommended Uses: These materials are appropriate for graduate level studies and research.
Technical Requirements: The site requires the ability to play tutorial videos using Java. Users may also download the Cytoscape plugin, but this is only necessary for looking at protein interactions associated with cancer.
Identify Major Learning Goals: This site does not publish specific learning goals.
Target Student Population: This website targets graduate students in cell biology, molecular biology, and bioinformatics programs.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: A firm understanding of gene expression, metabolism, and cell biology would be helpful in understanding these materials.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
  • Peer-reviewed, expert annotated and collaborative database that is cross-referenced with major bioinformatics resources
  • Focused on human processes, but includes other important species
  • Multiple search and browsing tools
  • Well designed
  • Provides analytical function on top of data storage and visualization
  • There were no concerns about quality of content at the time of this review

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
  • Provides depth and complexity
  • Comparing species accesses higher levels of learning in Bloom’s taxonomy
  • Could help graduate students gain a better grasp of metabolic and cellular processes
  • This site requires a lot of preparation and training by instructors for students to use this tool effectively

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Browsing the pathways resembles using one of the major map applications from major search engines, which makes it familiar and easy to navigate
  • Tutorial video and other help resources
  • Multiple pathways to navigate to the various functions and tools
  • Contact information that includes Facebook and Twitter
  • The immense scope of the site could be overwhelming to some students without proper instructions and guidance