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January 2006


Comments in BMJ vs. Nature and PLoS

If you compare the reactions to publications in PLoS Biology (10 e-letters in the last 30days) or the Nature-blogs (3 comments on Free Associationin the same time frame) to the responses in theBritish Medical Journal, you start wondering why the clinical side of the life sciences finds so many more comments than the experimental end. Just the number of comments could be explained by the number of readers but the quality of the contributions is much higher in BMJ, too.

I am a little disappointed by the lack of participation but do not think that it is the fault of journals. The comment functions are as easily accessible in BMJ as in PLoS for instance. Many publications are discussed in journal clubs or on conferences in great length. Why not take the time to share your thoughts? And if you're one of the kind who doesn't like MDs - do you want *them* to be more internet-savvy and future-ready than you whose middle name is 'high-throughput'?
Kargis (guest) - 2006-01-26 18:26

I think it's a comprehensibility issue

It may just be that the average reader can grasp a clinical outcome more easily than they can the average PLoS Biology or Nature paper. To use this week's Nature articles as an example, we have:
Atomic packing and short-to-medium-range order in metallic glasses

Policing stabilizes construction of social niches in primates

Epigenetic silencers and Notch collaborate to promote malignant tumours by Rb silencing

Which clinician should have a comment on these? There are more comments in BMJ because the articles are closer to actual patients and diseases than the article about Atomic Packing in Metallic Glass. The better question might be -- why aren't the other basic scientists in these areas writing comments?


Anonymous (guest) - 2006-03-06 23:39

Nature Blog is a pain in the bum

Although, I haven't check out the PLoS Biology commenting system, the Nature Blogs' comments are reviewed by an editor before posting.

That has really turned me off to commenting. We have to have freedom of speech in order to produce worthwide ideas even if it means posting not so polite or even offensive comments.

I will not post comments under such a system.

A userbase moderated system would be the best (think Slashdot). I would love a website like Slashdot that posted science articles with data presented. It would have to be in an understandable language (think Scientific American). The scientific community would be in better shape and peer reviewed journals would not be able to compete. Many journals only have two or three people review a manuscript before publishing. Potentially thousands of people could review an article and point out inconsistency and/or ability to reproduce results on a posted thread. I think under such a system the South Korean Stem Cell sciencist would have been discovered much quicker. And maybe if such a system was in place it would act as a deterent for future scammers.

Below is a warning posted on the comments page:

Comments will be reviewed by the editors before being published. You can be as critical or controversial as you like, but please don't get personal or offensive. We strongly encourage you to use your real, full name. Email addresses are useful in case we need to discuss your comment with you privately, or notify you in case we decide not publish your comment. Email addresses will not be made public on the blog.

spitshine - 2006-03-07 18:37

Moderation is a must for high-profile sites

In principle, you might not want to post here either. I have removed comments - all of them because of spam, not because of language or content but I would do so in case I consider it necessary.
Run a blog yourself and walk a little in the publishers shoes. The first time someone posts a link to a link farm or a splog, you are forced into action. Or post your comment at Free Association - I am sure it would appear. Slashdot imposes similar restrictions, the editors are just distributed. Besides, a user moderated peer review is as prone to fraud as the current system, possibly even more so as the number of experts is by far outnumbered by a concerned crowd with too much time on their hands.

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