For a forthcoming article, I need some statistics to illustrate how PubPeer performs. AFAIK know there is only one report from 2021 so I had to try something by my own.
It’s always interesting if we can find a discussion under a PubPeer article with more than 3 comments. Elisabeth Bik collected some of these interesting #PubPeer Pearls at Twitter while I am starting a new collection here.
PubMed had an own comments feature “PubMed Commons” which had been shut down in 2018.
NIH announced it will be discontinuing the service — which allowed only signed comments from authors with papers indexed in PubMed, among other restrictions — after more than four years, due to a lack of interest.
But there is no lack of interest, if we look at the ever increasing rates at PubPeer – the counter today is 122.000.
The main difference between PubMed Commons and PubPeer is the chance of submitting anonymous comments. While I also see a risk of unjustified accusations or online stalking, I believe that the current PubPeer coordinators handle this issue very well. We can post only issues that are obvious, directly visible or backed up by another source. Continue reading PubPeer should be merged into Pubmed (at some time point)
Gute Wissenschaft hängt nicht generell davon ab, ob sie mit einer bestimmten Person verknüpft werden kann – Sachverhalte sollte ja eigentlich objektiv reproduzierbar sein (auch wenn Wissenschaftsfunktionäre das anders sehen).
Interessant ist jedenfalls was ein neues Journal nun erlaubt: die anonyme Veröffentlichung.
Cut to 180 years later, and philosophers are again asserting the right to publish under made-up names. But these philosophers, it seems, want to use pseudonyms to do the very thing Kierkegaard accused his contemporaries of doing: abstracting authors out of ethical reality … An “open access, peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary journal specifically created to promote free inquiry on controversial topics,” it will give authors the option to publish their work under a pseudonym “in order to protect themselves from threats to their careers or physical safety.”
In der Tat, nicht alle wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis kann unter gegebenen politischen Verhältnissen veröffentlicht werden. Es wird jedenfalls spannend werden
Pseudonymity is not an inherently bad thing. Apart from focusing the reader on the argument rather than the author, it can, in many cases, give a say to people who could otherwise not participate in public discourse.
The title is taken from an essay of Dan Bolnick about current PubPeer practices
That said, there is some question about the proper procedure for answering these criticisms. Yes, PubPeer itself leaves room for comments (interestingly, journal editors like myself must pay money to reply to comments, even if to acknowledge them and state we are evaluating the issue). But, this process bypasses the journal that publishes the paper, and bypasses the normal scientific tradition of external review by experts in the field chosen by the journal editor for their knowledge and hopefully objectivity. For this reason, I want to really encourage people with substantial concerns about a paper (e.g., which may appreciably alter the results and conclusions), to submit formal “Comments” (different journals call these different things) to the journal.
I agree, letters or comments would be preferable. In practice, however, comments are largely ignored. I can provide numerous examples where nothing happened.
But, scientific traditions are fluid and we are in an era of increasing speed and openness: Preprint servers, open peer review, open data, et cetera. We therefore also recognize that PubPeer is an active tool in science conversations. The criticisms posted there can be valid identification of genuine problems that need to be evaluated formally and corrected. If valid well-justified and substantial concerns exist and are published on PubPeer, then the affected journal should respond.
Yea, yea. And are there caveats? Bolnick thinks
it is important that these not be used as a mechanism for pursuing personal vendettas. Excessive targeting of an author with multiple minor complaints can constitute a kind of harassment, and may be viewed as such by University Equity officers or equivalent. The anonymous nature of many PubPeer comments makes it easier for impacted authors to feel like (and, argue that) they are the target of personal vendettas and harassment. Second, the existence of PubPeer comments can cast a long shadow over a paper whether the comments are profound or minor. This shadow can affect an author’s career prospects (fellowship applications, job applications, etc) even before the matter is resolved and judged to be valid or not. The result can be inappropriate damage to an innocent authors’ career, which in turn may have grave consequences for mental health. Third, there is an established mechanism for voicing complaints about papers in science: Contact the author to request clarification, or contact the Editor, or submit a Comment.
Well, it depends. What is a minor complaint? One wrong label, two or three? Mixing up figures and data? Nirwana references? Intentional wrong statements? Ignorance of literature? If a comment is profound or minor can be decided by any PubPeer reader. Grave consequences for mental health of a fraudulent or careless author?
I believe that if there would be any working mechanism for voicing complaints about scientific integrity (or just minor corrections), PubPeer would not exist. Kudos Brandon Stell.