Nature published an article yesterday on online discussions. Nature writes that online discussions are an important part of reviewing research results after they have been published.The article’s starting point is that researchers are opinionated people and a great interest to debate, both through peer review but also by questioning other’s conclusions. Researchers want to debate.
The article wonders where is the lust to debate online about published research.
This is an interesting question. It is starting to become more common to have the possibility to discuss articles after publication, especially when the article are published digitally. There are communities with livly discussion, e.g. PLoS, which according to Nature, has been more succesful to get discussions going than other communities where approx. 10% of articles have atleast one comment.
US National Center for Biotechnology is, since last week, in process of making PubMed with their 23 million posts open for comments and it has resulted in some couple of hundred comments, even a research commenting his own article by saying that the conclusions presented were not supported by the research data.
A drawback with open comments exists, especially when someone writes unserious comments.
Nature asks if it matters where the online debate happens and answers that it doesn’t matter in the short term. In the long term though, if the online debate is there to help researchers and others to evaluate research, then research and online debete should be connected and tied together.
I am wondering if the university’s researchers have the interest to take part in online debates and under what forms? Would there be interest to grade the usability of a research publication the same way as you grade a film on imdb.com?