Unveiling a new look – and more – for PubMed Commons

PubMed Commons set the stage for commenting on any publication in PubMed, the world’s largest searchable database of biomedical literature. Lately we’ve been tackling infrastructure and design to improve the user experience and support the PubMed Commons community. Those developments are now live on PubMed and PubMed Commons. Here’s what you can expect from the PubMed Commons update.

Center stage

Some changes are likely to jump out for frequent PubMed Commons users.

@PubMedCommonsWe’ve adopted new artwork for our blog, Twitter account, and homepage. We’re going for a clear, unified identity across platforms, one that we hope will be recognizable wherever you see us.

We’ve made some modifications to streamline our homepage. We’ve consolidated information about joining and using PubMed Commons in a single page to help you get started. You’ll also find a synopsis of our most recent blog post at the top of our homepage to help you stay up-to-date on PubMed Commons.

For several months, comment rating has given members the chance to weigh in on what comments they find useful. Visitors to PubMed can see these ratings alongside comments. Ratings are a key element in calculating the comment and commenter scores that determine the appearance of comments in the “Selected comments” stream on our homepage.

Some new site modifications will highlight your contributions to PubMed Commons. On our homepage, “Top comments now will feature the top three recent comments. On PubMed records, “Selected comments” (from our homepage stream) prompt the appearance of an icon above abstracts, directing readers to comments below.

This new icon will appear above some abstracts in PubMed.

This new icon will appear above some abstracts in PubMed.

For a while, we’ve selected highly-rated comments to post to our Twitter stream. Starting today, the most recent tweet about a PubMed Commons comment appears on the homepage for PubMed searches. Check it out!

Behind the scenes

Some key changes in the PubMed Commons development won’t be visible on the PubMed Commons site. We’ve improved our “Invite an author” function. It looks the same as before, but we hope you’ll encounter fewer errors when inviting authors to join or comment. (If you do encounter errors, please let us know by using the “Write to the Help Desk” link, found at the bottom of every NCBI page.)

inviteIn response to community feedback, we are also notifying corresponding authors of comments on their publications and inviting them to join PubMed Commons. We’ve been at it for two months, and we’re encouraged by the increase in author responses. We will continue our notification process, but we still encourage members to notify a publication’s author(s) when commenting.

More to come

We’re not done yet. In May, an external working group for PubMed Commons was established. The members offered great feedback and ideas on where PubMed Commons is and where it’s going. But more on that later…

The cornerstone for the continued growth of PubMed Commons is you! Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Learn more about the PubMed Commons pilot.
  • Are you an author of a PubMed-indexed publication? Join PubMed Commons!
  • Already a PubMed Commons member?
    • Post a comment! Log in to My NCBI, find a PubMed citation, and start typing. Not sure what to post? Check out these examples of how authors have been using PubMed Commons.
    • Rate comments. It only takes a moment, and as we discussed above, you can influence what’s highlighted on PubMed Commons – and PubMed.
    • Invite your colleagues!
  • Finally, help us spread the word about PubMed Commons!

Thanks for your support and contributions to PubMed Commons. We look forward to seeing where this community takes us next.

The PubMed Commons Team

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About NCBI Staff

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, provides access to scientific and biomedical databases, software tools for analyzing molecular data, and performs research in computational biology.

6 thoughts on “Unveiling a new look – and more – for PubMed Commons

  1. We are mirroring PMC comments on PubPeer and have also been automatically sending alerts to corresponding authors of papers with PMC comments. We didn’t realize you started sending alerts as well and don’t want to harass these poor authors so we will now stop our alerts. Please feel free to contact us privately if you prefer we continue.

    Your pals at PubPeer.

    “In response to community feedback, we are also notifying corresponding authors of comments on their publications and inviting them to join PubMed Commons. We’ve been at it for two months, and we’re encouraged by the increase in author responses. We will continue our notification process, but we still encourage members to notify a publication’s author(s) when commenting.”

  2. Thanks for these improvements. When an older paper is commented on, does NCBI send a paper notification to corresponding authors who only published a postal address, or do you look up their email address? And if you learn that they are retired, deceased or otherwise unreachable, do you post some note to that effect on the comments so readers know not to expect a reply ?

  3. When will it be opened to more people? There are many in the biological sciences that don’t publish but could add useful information. Not everyone is in the publish or perish lifestyle.

    • We’re quickly coming up on the end of the pilot evaluation period. So we’ll be discussing future directions – including scope of participation – for PubMed Commons soon. Thanks for your input!

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