May 22, 2022

Research Article: ‘No Comment’? A Study of Commenting on PLOS Articles”

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‘No Comment’? A Study Of Commenting on PLOS Articles


Simon Wakeling
The University of Sheffield

Peter Willett
The University of Sheffield

Claire Creaser
Loughborough University

Jenny Fry
Loughborough University

Stephen Pinfield
The University of Sheffield

Valerie Spezi
Loughborough University

Marc Bonne
The University of Sheffield

Christina Fountitzelle
The University of Sheffield

Medina Perea
The University of Sheffield


Journal of Information Science
DOI: 10.1177/0165551518819965

Article first published online: January 24, 2019


Article–commenting functionality allows users to add publicly visible comments to an article on a publisher’s website. As well as facilitating forms of post-publication peer review, for publishers of open-access mega-journals (large, broad scope, open-access journals that seek to publish all technically or scientifically sound research) comments are also thought to serve as a means for the community to discuss and communicate the significance and novelty of the research, factors which are not assessed during peer review. In this article we present the results of an analysis of commenting on articles published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), publisher of the first and best-known mega-journal PLOS ONE, between 2003 and 2016. We find that while overall commenting rates are low, and have declined since 2010, there is substantial variation across different PLOS titles. Using a typology of comments developed for this research, we also find that only around half of comments engage in an academic discussion of the article and that these discussions are most likely to focus on the paper’s technical soundness. Our results suggest that publishers are yet to encourage significant numbers of readers to leave comments, with implications for the effectiveness of commenting as a means of collecting and communicating community perceptions of an article’s importance.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.