PubMed Commons: A New Forum for Scientific Discourse

NCBI has released a pilot version of a new service in PubMed that allows researchers to post comments on individual PubMed abstracts. Called PubMed Commons, this service is an initiative of the NIH leadership in response to repeated requests by the scientific community for such a forum to be part of PubMed. We hope that PubMed Commons will leverage the social power of the internet to encourage constructive criticism and high quality discussions of scientific issues that will both enhance understanding and provide new avenues of collaboration within the community.

Why a pilot version?

We developed PubMed Commons with the support of a group from the research community recruited by Professor Robert Tibshirani of Stanford University. We are grateful for their invaluable assistance. We are piloting a beta version to gain perspective from the experiences of the community generally as well as from community discussions and feedback.  Current participants will also be able to invite more people into PubMed Commons. We look forward to continuing to improve the service before releasing it more broadly.

How do I get invited? Can I just join?

During the closed pilot phase, several organizations have provided us lists of approved e-mail addresses of PubMed authors, and if you are on one of these lists, you can request an invitation to join PubMed Commons. You can find out if you are on one of these lists at the Join PubMed Commons page. We also offer an option for academic and research institutions to add to these lists. You can read more about this in our FAQ.  We will be adding additional options for joining in the future.

How does it work?

Once you receive an invitation to join, you will need to have a My NCBI account to participate in PubMed Commons. You can either use an existing account or create a new one (it’s free, quick and simple!). Then all you have to do is log in to your My NCBI account and use PubMed as you normally would. You will then find a link on every abstract view that allows you to add a comment to that record. You will also be able to read and reply to comments from other participants.

PubMed Commons Example
Here is an example of comments that have been made on an article indexed in PubMed. If you are a participant in PubMed Commons, you will be able to view and add your own comments!

If you are able to join PubMed Commons in the current phase, please try it out and send us your thoughts about the service. We’d love to hear from you!

More Information

PubMed Commons Homepage

How do I Join?


Twitter Channel

16 thoughts on “PubMed Commons: A New Forum for Scientific Discourse

  1. Will there be a way to search for or limit to articles that have public comments? For example, Nature[so] AND public comment[pt]

  2. Good news. Just ran the above search and retrieved 3 results but no comments are displayed in abstract view. Same problem with the PNAS example shown above. Using IE9.

    1. To see the comments, you must do two things:
      1) be signed in to My NCBI
      2) be a PubMed Commons participant
      See the third paragraph of this post for links to the Join PubMed Commons page.
      We’ll be posting some more details about this that should help.

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