If you are one of the millions of people who visit PubMed today, be on the look-out for something different. On each abstract page, there’s now a section called PubMed Commons. It’s a forum for scientific discussion on publications open to any authors in the world’s largest biomedical literature database.
Several hundred comments have been made during a closed pilot in the last few months. But there are over 23 million articles in PubMed, with thousands more pouring in every day, from Tuesday to Saturday. So the chance of coming across an article with comments is still very low.
We’ll show you some interesting ones shortly, though – and you can learn how to look for articles with comments and set up alerts in one of last week’s blog posts. Or you can check out the stream of selected new comments – as well as articles that are trending in PubMed – at the PubMed Commons home page.
If you happen onto an article that has comments, the first sign will be in your search results. There will be a little icon letting you know an article has comments, and how many there are – like this:
Anyone can read the comments. Members may also have rated their helpfulness, which looks like this on the comment:
Each comment comes with a “Permalink.” That’s a permanent link you can use to share the comment or cite it. You can find more about how to cite a comment in the PubMed Commons FAQs.
If a comment has cited another article in PubMed, and used particular PubMed Commons formatting to do it, you will see a note letting you know it is mentioned in a PubMed comment.
If you are the author of any publication in PubMed, you are eligible to join PubMed Commons now. PubMed Commons is a pilot, beginning an evaluation phase. Through that time, we’ll be exploring possible ways to widen participation.
Registered members of the Commons can invite others to join. We have developed a wizard to help you and your colleagues work out who can get the ball rolling. Check out the new instructions and get started today.
Then you could rate whether a comment was helpful or not, join in a discussion, or make a new comment on an article. For members of PubMed Commons who are also signed into their NCBI account, the PubMed Commons section looks like this:
Members have already used PubMed Commons in many ways:
- Updating their work, as Kniss did – he’s an author of a 2006 paper on the effects of an herbicide on sugar beet bred to be resistant to it, and he points to later research that suggests their findings weren’t borne out in the field;
- Pointing to attempts – both failed and successful – to replicate work, as Mangan did, on this article on bioavailability of plant microRNAs after feeding in mice; and
- Getting into discussions, like this one on citing databases in biomedical articles, this on methods of statistical analysis for sequencing data, and this discussion on systematic reviews of the effects of health care.
There are more examples in our recent post on how authors are using PubMed Commons. We will be blogging in detail about other ways people are using the Commons, as well as talking about new features under development and offering tips about making comments and using the system.
We’re looking forward to our first Twitter chat soon, too, so keep your eye out on @PubMedCommons and this blog for the announcement.
If you’re an author we hope you will join and contribute by rating comments – and adding your thoughts about scientific publications, too. Thanks again to the hundreds of people who contributed to the development of PubMed Commons this year, and the discussion about it. And welcome to everyone who is new to the Commons: we hope you will visit the home page and find out more!
PubMed Commons Guidelines (Updated version on 19 December 2013)