Science would benefit from a stronger and more constructive discussion around published research studies but there are several cultural challenges that need to be overcome before this can be fully realized argues Hilda Bastian from the National Institutes of Health, United States, in an Editorial published in PLOS Medicine.
An important part of the research cycle is the evaluation and discussion of a study by the scientific community once it has been published. However, current systems for recording this scientific effort are fragmented and often reflect activity that doesn’t occur until long after the study is published. In her Editorial, Hilda Bastian notes that cultural issues limit the potential of post-publication commenting and that these need to be addressed to improve the practice of science.
Post-publication commenting involves criticism, where problems and errors are highlighted, but also constructive aspects that can build, apply, connect, and update ideas and ongoing work. Ms Bastian argues against anonymity, and also highlights the potential for increased incivility, fear of repercussions against junior researchers and the under-representation of women’s views in science as cultural challenges that need to be overcome.
Ms. Bastian concludes, “[t]hinking and talking about our responses to research reports is still science’s vibrant and compelling intellectual core. Capturing … post-publication intellectual effort more rigorously is essential for better science.”
A Stronger Post-Publication Culture Is Needed for Better Science, Bastian H, PLoS Med, doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001772, published 30 December 2014.
HB has received funding from the Intramural Research Program of the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
HB is a member of the Editorial Board of PLOS Medicine, and lead editor for PubMed Commons, a forum for scientific discourse.