Bioethics Blogs

PubMed Commons: Catalyzing Scientist-To-Scientist Interactions

LogoToday’s scientists find it tough to keep up with all of the latest journal articles, innovative methods, and interesting projects of colleagues in their fields. That’s understandable, because there are tens of thousands of journals, hundreds of conferences in major fields, dozens of emerging technologies, and huge geographic distances separating researchers who may share common interests. But science is increasingly a team sport—and it’s important to provide scientists with as many avenues as possible through which to interact, including commenting on each other’s work.

To encourage such exchanges, NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recently developed PubMed Commons, a resource that gives researchers the opportunity to engage in online discussions about scientific publications 24/7. Specifically, this service allows scientists with at least one publication to comment on any paper in PubMed—the world’s largest searchable database of biomedical literature, with more than 3 million full-text articles and 24 million citations.

There are a lot of reasons to participate. Authors of biomedical research papers can update and receive feedback on their papers from fellow scientists around the globe. Comments can guide further research by identifying and sharing links to other relevant papers, linking to datasets, replication efforts, or blogs. Researchers can also link to articles in non-biomedical journals that might otherwise be overlooked.

Since the service was launched a few months ago, 5,000 scientists (who have at least one publication in PubMed) have joined PubMed Commons—posting about 1,600 comments. The quality of these comments has been good, thanks in part to a member-based rating system that flags the comments found to be most useful.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.