Contributing User Resources to BDC

The BDC user community is essential to advancing science with new and exciting discoveries and informing the development of the ecosystem and its infrastructure. Members of the BDC user community learn how to explore the hosted data, use the services, and employ its tools in exciting and valuable ways that even developers may not know. Therefore, we actively invite user resource contributions to be shared with the community.

Types of Resources

Consider supporting fellow ecosystem users in one of the following ways:

  • Written Documentation: Develop step-by-step guides, FAQs, checklists, and so on. Include screenshots to support user understanding.

  • Videos: Record a shortcut, tip, or process you think would be helpful to other users. Keep videos short by dividing larger processes into smaller segments and recording separate videos for each.

  • Respond to inquiries: Answer questions posed in the BioData Catalyst Forums. Forum content with significant engagement may get incorporated into written documentation or made into videos.


All materials must ensure privacy policy compliance. Make certain to block any patient information on all content and protect study participants' privacy by not including personally identifiable, confidential, sensitive, or personal health information (for example, blur screenshots with data).

Decide How to Share What You Know

Experienced users who want to share their tips and tricks should consider the following questions.

  • Did someone already share my tip? Look through the resources already available to users before investing your time and energy into creating a new one.

  • Which format best suits your resource? Ask yourself, "Would I prefer to watch this on video or have a step-by-step guide to help me?" Then ask yourself which you think other users would prefer. Figuring out which you'd prefer is a great place to start because you are the one who identified the tip. But remember that you are creating something to help other people whose preferences will determine whether a resource gets used.

  • Is my tip complex, or does it require several steps? If so, a written how-to guide will probably be easier to follow than a video because someone watching a video may need to stop and restart it often. Still, visual aids will be helpful, so consider using screenshots in your how-to guide.

  • Is the guidance I want to share relatively straightforward, but it requires clicking through several pages/places? If so, a short video could be the best way to share your tip. Finding buttons or links can be much easier if shown rather than described.

  • If I create a video and make sure to go slowly enough that someone can follow along, will it be longer than 15 minutes? If so, creating a video may not be the right format, or breaking down the content into shorter (more digestible) videos may be preferable.

  • Am I comfortable following the requirements outlined for the user-generated video tutorials? If not, please create written documentation (e.g., a how-to guide).

  • Do I want to provide help in almost-real-time without needing to formally draft a document or record a video? Visit the Community Forum often to provide answers to questions posed by other users or even just post your tip.

Creating and Sharing Your Contribution

Once you decide upon the best way to share what you learned, you'll need to create your contribution and then share it.

  • For a quick tip that you want to distribute swiftly, draft something short that you can easily post to the Community Forum. The following is an example of a quick tip for using PIC-SURE’s Data Access Table:

    • In PIC-SURE, did you know you can use the search bar in the Data Access Table to find studies? Instead of scrolling through the table and looking at the list of available studies manually, you can search for studies. An example could be “MESA” for a specific study name, or a phenotype like “Sickle Cell” to find all sickle cell related studies. It seems obvious, but I’m not sure how many other users are aware of this, and I found it really helpful!

  • For Written Documentation, draft your suggestions and include screenshots to help lead users through the process you describe. Once complete, submit the file to for review and posting to the BioData Catalyst Gitbook. Note that we will accept Google Doc (with at least suggesting edits status preferred) and Microsoft Word formats; PDFs are not accepted.

  • For videos, review the User-Generated Videos portion of the BDC Video Content Guidance page. By submitting a video, you agree to those conditions. Once your video is uploaded to your YouTube channel, email the link to for consideration to be linked to the BDC YouTube channel also.

Finding User-Generated User Resources

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