PubMed Commons is a new service that will allow researchers to post comment on specific papers in PubMed. It is designed to be a forum that will encourage constructive criticism and high quality discussions that may enhance understanding and spark collaborations. The screenshot below shows how the discussion displays in PubMed’s abstract view. (Click to enlarge image.)
During the time the Commons is a pilot project, participation is via invitation. If you are an author with a paper in PubMed and have eRA Commons credentials, you can invite yourself. Learn how to join PubMed Commons here.
You will need to have a My NCBI account and log into it when using PubMed. That will allow you to both see and post comments. To see all articles with comments on a specific topic, add AND has_user_comments[sb] to your PubMed search. Learn more about your My NCBI account here.
According to the NCBI, comments from the first few days after the site went live included “critique or pointed to other studies or reviews with the potential to change people’s interpretations or conclusions. Some authors posted corrections or changed their own conclusions in the light of others’ subsequent work. Authors also used PubMed Commons to update people on their work – including links to databases that have moved, providing contextual information and backstories as well as new, relevant work.
Many PubMed Commons participants took the opportunity to add links to relevant papers and data, sometimes in the non-PubMed academic literature or data repositories – including complete datasets, data re-analyses, blog posts and full text pre-prints of the article.”
PubMed Commons can be viewed as another tool in an emerging field sometimes labeled “post-publication peer-review.” Two other options for reading commentary and adding your views to the discussion on published articles follow:
- UAB licenses Faculty of 1000 which uses experts to identify and comment on noteworthy articles.
- PubPeer is a free website striving to create an online community for discussion of scientific papers organized into a searchable online database. PubPeer has released a browser plugin so users can identify articles with comments when searching PubMed.
Where PubMed Commons has requirements for the people posting commentary, PubPeer encourages anonymity. Each has strong reasons for its requirements. If you are interested in these issues, both Nature News and Retraction Watch have discussed the PubMed Commons initiative.