[gdlr_text_align class=”justify”]Open-source tools and software are becoming a rising norm among researchers who want to conduct genetic analysis. Programs like Moodle (open-source learning platform), Kauli (financial system for academics) and even open-source Lab Information Management Systems like CloudLIMS have made quite an entrance in the market.
Open-source tools can be quite a catch within the bioinformatics industry, but often there are hidden costs that are not taken into consideration when making a choice between a premium option and free software. The true cost of “free” software is discussed in a white paper by Golden Helix where they explore the risks of time allocation, damage to reputation and distraction from scientific discovery.
This uptake of open-source software in understandable. Most research projects are depending on governmental grants and funding. In such cases, cutting costs wherever possible is the main priority among researchers, in order to fund other human resources costs. However, researchers often fail to foresee prospective hidden costs that are discovered through the course of the project.
We have extracted some hidden costs based on past literature and real-life experience as a bioinformatics company, some of them are listed below:
If you are looking to opt for free software, take into consideration the above factors. If the software company is able to provide quality customer support, ensures software viability and maintenance and offers free training programs, then free software can be the right choice. In any case, be sure to check for references and credibility of the software programmer.[/gdlr_text_align]