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Commenting on scientific papers

There have been quite a few posts over the last few days about commenting, in particular about posting comments, notes and ratings on scientific papers. But this also related to commenting on blogs and social networks, commenting on newspaper online articles, the question of moderation vs. non-moderation, and the question of anonymity vs. pseudonymity vs. RL identity.

You may want to re-visit this old thread first, for introduction on commenting on blogs.

How a 1995 court case kept the newspaper industry from competing online by Robert Niles goes back into history to explain why the comments on the newspaper sites tend to be so rowdy, rude and, frankly, idiotic. And why that is bad for the newspapers.

In Why comments suck (& ideas on un-sucking them), Dan Conover has some suggestions how to fix that problem.

Mr. Gunn, in Online Engagement of Scientists with the literature: anonymity vs. ResearcherID tries to systematize the issues in the discussion about commenting on scientific papers which has the opposite problem from newspapers: relatively few people post comments.

Christina Pikas responds in What happens when you cross the streams? and Dave Bacon adds more in Comments?…I Don’t Have to Show You Any Stinkin’ Comments!

You should now go back to the analysis of commenting on BMC journals and on PLoS ONE, both by Euan Adie.

Then go back to my own posts on everyONE blog: Why you should post comments, notes and ratings on PLoS ONE articles and Rating articles in PLoS ONE.

Then, follow the lead set by Steve Koch and post a comment – break the ice for yourself.

Or see why T. Michael Keesey posted a couple of comments.

You may want to play in the Sandbox first.

I am watching all the discussions on the blog posts (as well as on FriendFeed) with great professional interest, of course. So, what do you think? Who of the above is right/wrong and why? Is there something in Conover’s suggestions for newspapers that should be useful for commenting on scientific papers? What are your suggestions?

Comments

  1. #1 Mary
    May 27, 2009

    I specifically went over to look at the comments on that PLoS Vaccine Wars one. The first comment was a rabid anti-vaxxer that I’ve seen on the blogs. Subsequent comments also from the interested and prejudiced parties are now there as well.

    It isn’t fostering conversation. It’s just another place to shout from.

    I don’t know what works to bridge the groups. I’ll go do some reading. But I haven’t seen the answer yet.

  2. #2 Laura
    May 28, 2009

    Today’s PHD Comic is relevant to this discussion: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1178

  3. #3 Coturnix
    May 28, 2009

    I know – it’s been all over the web all day, I tweeted it early this morning, perhaps I’ll post it later today here.

  4. #4 Nathaniel Marshall
    May 28, 2009

    Dammit!

    Laura beat me to it…

    The BMJ has had Rapid Responses to published papers for years. I’ve heard more than one researcher refer to these as the Rabid Responses.

  5. #5 Comrade PhysioProf
    May 30, 2009

    The reason no one comments is because no academic credit is allocated for it. If you can’t put it on your CV, it ain’t worth the effort.

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