Comment search and alert: A PubMed Commons guide

Screenshot from PubMed Commons banner

Some authors are now adding comments to PubMed records in the pilot PubMed Commons project. Soon, these comments will be visible.

How can you find these needles in the giant PubMed haystack? How can you know if someone has commented on your publication, or joined a discussion on an article you’re interested in? We’ll show you how to find articles with comments first – and then how to use these searches to get alerts on new comments.

This is the key piece of PubMed search language you need:

|          AND has_user_comments[filter]

Put whatever you are interested in front of that, and only those publications in PubMed with a comment will appear. You can use this filter to find articles on particular subjects, names, journals and much more.

To find out if there are comments on a particular article:

PMID is the acronym for a record’s ID in PubMed. You can see it at the end of the abstract view – PMID: 11572773. Here’s how you use it to find out if it has a comment:

|           11572773 [pmid] AND has_user_comments [filter]

If there is no comment, the search will come up empty.

To find out if there are comments on articles by a particular author:

We recommend this technique, with the author’s last name followed by initials, without punctuation:

|           Chimenko I [author] AND has_user_comments [filter]

You can shorten [author] to [au]. This technique also works for full names for many publications since 2002, like this:

|           Chimenko, Ingrid [author] AND has_user_comments [filter]

If you have a unique author identifier, it will only work for the articles where the publisher has included the number in the PubMed data.

We’re working on ways to make your own articles quicker to target. In the meantime, you could check out the video tutorial on PubMed searching by author.

PubMed has many other pieces of search language you can use to target other things you want to find. There is a list here in PubMed Help.

Keep PubMed on the alert for new comments for you

So how can you use these searches to get alerts for new comments? For that, you need a My NCBI account. My NCBI is free and open to anyone. When you use it to set up alerts for searches, you will get an automatic email alert from PubMed when the search finds a new comment. Check out NCBI’s how-to guide and PubMed will be on the alert for you.

The PubMed Commons team

Coming next on PubMed Commons blog: how authors are using the Commons to expand, update and correct the records of their work.

More information

Setting up automatic NCBI searches and new record alerts

How to join PubMed Commons  (Note – if you are an author of a publication in PubMed Commons, your email may be in the list explained in this post)

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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.

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