Saturday, February 21, 2009

Using the Comment, Note, and Rating Features at PLoS One

In my previous post, I highlighted some new articles from the online, open access journal PLoS ONE, and noted that the commenting feature at this journal is relatively unused for most articles. Some interesting discussion ensued on why this might be (among other issues). . .Mike Keesey suggested that maybe folks just aren't used to commenting in this format. Well then, let's do something about it!

Your Assignment:
  • 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!
How It Works
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!


Anonymous said...

Interesting, I'll have to check it out sometime.

Darren Naish said...

My problem with the PLoS journals concerns trackbacks - I'm sure I'm missing something very, very obvious, but I cannot figure them out. And their site is no help at all.

ps - I did figure them out once, as I correctly inserted a trackback to Sereno et al.'s Aerosteon article.

Andy said...

To be honest, I'm not sure. It is a disappointment, because a lot more blogs link to each article than are acknowledged in the trackback section! Maybe Bora would know?

From my end, Blogger doesn't really allow true track-backs. This annoys me.

Bora Zivkovic said...

I know, I know, our trackback system is still pretty primitive - we are working on it. It requires a precise use of a particular form of URL for the paper in the body of the text of the post, as well as a particular form of the trackback URL to be places in the "outgoing trackbacks" box:

It does not work on Blogger, because Blogger does not support trackbacks (Google is trying to promote its own "linkbacks" which work only between Blogger blogs and nowhere else).

Andy said...

Thanks for the info on trackbacks for PLoS articles, Coturnix! And I do think the "linkbacks" on Blogger/Blogspot are effectively useless.