Earlier this week, NCBI announced the released a pilot of PubMed Commons, a feature that enables commenting on article abstracts by researchers. According to the NCBI blog, the new feature is in response to requests by the scientific community. Their goal is to encourage constructive criticism and discussion of scientific issues.
For now, PubMed Commons is only available to researchers who have been invited. Several (unnamed, to the best of my knowledge) organizations provided lists of email addresses of PubMed authors. Those individuals can create accounts and invite others to participate. Wondering if you’re on the list? You can go to the Join PubMed Commons page.
Users can also search for articles with comments with searches like: nature[journal] AND “has user comments”[filter]. You must be a PubMed Commons participant to see comments, but I hope that it’ll eventually open up to more users because the comments have the capacity to provide valuable insight to many different types of users.
Another interesting thing is that I’ve been noticing a decline in enabling comments on online articles. In Popular Science, for example, they even believe that comment sections are actively hurting the scientific community because it gives small minorities the power to negatively alter readers’ perceptions on important topics. The highly controlled method taken on by PubMed Commons is an way of ensuring some quality control, but at the expense of a diversity of perspectives. I’m looking forward to seeing how PubMed Commons develops!