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Introducing: PubMed Commons

Did you hear the news this morning? At 11:00 am on October 22, 2013, PubMed has released the all new PubMed Commons, by invitation only. It is a pilot program so we will see how it all goes.

“PubMed Commons is a system that enables researchers to share their opinions about scientific publications. Researchers can comment on any publication indexed by PubMed, and read the comments of others. PubMed Commons is a forum for open and constructive criticism and discussion of scientific issues. It will thrive with high quality interchange from the scientific community. PubMed Commons is currently in a closed pilot testing phase, which means that only invited participants can add and view comments in PubMed.”

I think this is a neat idea, but I just wonder if it is going to create more noise or help?

Will PubMed Commons have more appeal since it is being targeted at a limited audience? Or will it also be discontinued like Medpedia and Google Sidewiki? Medpedia was a place for approved clinicians/scientist to create a medical wikipedia. The site eventually shut down due to lack of interest. There was also little to show for how useful it was or if people were even using it. Google previously created a similar feature, Google Sidewiki but discontinued this product in December 2011.

In addition to the failure of Medpedia and Google Sidewiki, many journal vendors publish comments on their pages. There is even a new string of Journal Club apps that allow clinicians/scientist to publish comments. Or you could log into items such as QuantiaMD or Doximity to see what others are reading/commenting about.

Will PubMed commons be more successful since it is tied to PubMed? If PubMed Commons catches on it could be successful or it could just create more noise on the internet that no one reads. Then what happens to the comments published on say, NEJM’s website? How would those get tied back into PubMed Commons? Would it really create a place to bring together all the comments or just another place to add more reviews?

I am interested to see how this progresses. I think if PubMed works on creating some additional features to add to PubMed Commons it might be more successful. For instance: iPad app, magazine app (or integration into Flipboard), ability to tweet/facebook/share comments, ability to subscribe to comments on your article, ability to receive alerts when someone comments on an article you published (or any article), ability to confirm the person commenting identity, etc. These are just a couple of questions I have so far, and a couple of possible suggestions for PubMed Commons.

The last one is really a key point. If you cannot confirm who wrote the comment, then this could all just create more spam and noise. As I do not yet have an invitation to the pilot, I cannot say how they are confirming people’s identity. I also cannot comment on if there is a way to share or do the other items I listed above. Check out this post to see a great discussion on identity, possible need for anonymity, and other concerns.

Making it easy for people to add comments is also key. If it is too difficult or only accessible from a PC, and/or if it is not an easy to use/read interface then this might now catch on (and I am wondering if this will catch on) with many scientist which is vital for this to succeed. Again, just my initial thoughts before I have a chance to really see and review PubMed Commons. Have any of my #medlibs friends had a chance to review this new resource?

I do not currently have an invite to try the PubMed Commons Pilot. If someone wants to send me an invite… I would appreciate it! For now, please take a look atHilda Bastian’s post for details about the new PubMed Commons Pilot.

 Other articles on PubMed Commons and Links:

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