- If you haven't already, create a user account on the PLoS website. This will allow you to post notes, make comments, and rate articles.
- Read an article that interests you on PLoS ONE (consider it part of your academic duty to keep on top of the recent literature), and make a substantive comment or note about something in the article. If you don't feel like making a specific comment (or if the article is so incredibly good as to not need comment), just rate the article.
- Feel good about contributing to a scientific discussion!
Notes are for comments on specific portions of an article. For instance, maybe you think a particular sentence is well said, or relates to a very specific point that you have in mind. In this case, a note is most appropriate.
Comments are for more general thoughts on a paper--is there something particularly good, bad, or ugly? Might you have suggestions for an interesting follow-up study? Is there just something you're wondering about that you'd like the author(s) to answer?
Finally, ratings are a chance to tell folks what you really think about the paper. PLoS has three categories in which you rate an article--insight, reliability, and style. These categories are unfortunately vague in their names, but the PLoS website provides a succinct explanation of what is meant by each. Essentially, the categories rate the "importance" or "thought-provokingness" of an article, solidness of the conclusions, and technical execution and presentation of the whole package.
My First Notes, Comments, and Ratings
To check out an example, see another new paper in vertebrate paleontology published by Bates et. al:
Bates KT, Manning PL, Hodgetts D, Sellers WI (2009) Estimating Mass Properties of Dinosaurs Using Laser Imaging and 3D Computer Modelling. PLoS ONE 4(2): e4532. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004532
I just finished some notes, comments, and a rating of the article. (no, I did not do this just for the purpose of the blog--the topic genuinely interests me!) It's easy! Science marches on.
What are you waiting for? Go try it for yourself!