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PubMed's Forum

PubMed has created a pilot version of a post-publication peer review forum that will allow researchers comment on and read others' opinions on any publication PubMed has indexed.

In its pilot phase PubMed Commons will be open only to invited participants during beta testing while the National Center for Biotechnology Information gathers feedback from the community. Current participants also will be able to invite others to join, although it is not immediately clear when that will be.

Stephen Turner, director of the Bioinformatics Core at the University of Virginia, observes on his blog Getting Genetics Done that the new forum could catch on because of the ubiquity of PubMed itself.

"Whether you use PubMed's search directly or you land on a PubMed abstract from Google Scholar, you'll almost always link out to a paper from a PubMed abstract. This means that the momentum and critical mass to make a forum like this actually useful already exists," he writes.

UB Berkeley biologist Michael Eisen is sanguine about the new forum.

"What we’ve always needed was a central place where you know you can always go to record comments on a paper you are reading, and, conversely, where you can get all of the comments other scientists have on a paper you’re reading or are interested in," he writes.

He says "the obvious place to build such a commenting/post publication review system has always been directly in PubMed – it has everything and everyone already uses it."