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Comments

Overview

PLOS journal web sites provide the ability for users to comment on articles to facilitate community evaluation and discourse around published articles.

Comments should be used to make additions or clarifications, identify and link to material, and are designed to lead to threaded discussions concerning the content, conclusions, and consequences of a specific article.

Authors of all comments will be identified by their PLOS username.

Terms of Use

All comments and other post-publication activity in PLOS web sites are subject to the PLOS Terms of Use.

Who Can Contribute?

All registered users are able to add comments to any article. Anyone can register as a user. Users are required to unambiguously identify themselves with their first and last names, their geographic location, and a valid email address in order to register.

First and last name and geographic location are made public, however email addresses are private. The email address and other registration fields that the user chooses to make private will be kept strictly confidential by PLOS staff unless otherwise indicated. Discussion and ratings are not anonymous.

PLOS reserves the right to suspend the privileges of any registered user. Any registered user who is found to have provided false name or location information will have their account suspended and any postings deleted.

Adding and Viewing Comments

To add a comment about an article, first log into the web site. To create a comment, click the “Comments” tab at the top of the article. Click the “Post a new comment” link and enter a title and the text of the  comment in the appropriate boxes; completion of the competing interests statement is required.

Comments should be written in a word-processing program that allows for spell checking before they are copied and pasted into the comment field. Click “Post” to attach the comment to the article. Any correctly formed URLs in the comment text field will automatically become working links.

To view all comments on an article, along with any replies, click the “Comments” tab at the top of the article.

Responding to Comments

To respond to a comment, click the “Respond to this Posting” link in the bottom-right corner of the window. Enter a title and the text of the response in the appropriate boxes. Responses should be written in a word-processing program that allows for spell checking before they are copied and pasted into the comment field. Click “Post” to attach the response. Any correctly formed URLs in the response text field will automatically become working links.

Following this procedure, up to twelve branching threads can be anchored to an initial comment. If any contribution is removed following moderation, all subsequent responses along its thread will also be removed.

Good Practice

All contributions must conform to the norms of civilized scientific discussion. Any contributions that do not meet these standards will be removed. Any users who consistently transgress these conventions will have their user privileges removed.

A partial list of discussion standards includes the following:

  • Language that is insulting, inflammatory, or obscene will not be tolerated.
  • Unsupported assertions or statements should be avoided. Comments must be evidence-based, not authority-based.
  • When previously published studies are cited, they must be accurately referenced and, where possible, a DOI and link to a publicly accessible version supplied.
  • Unpublished data should be provided with sufficient methodological detail for those data to be assessed. Alternatively, a permanent web link to such information should be provided.
  • Arguments based on belief are to be avoided. For example the assertion, “I don't believe the results in Figure 2” must be supported.
  • Discussions should be confined to the demonstrable content of articles and should avoid speculation about the motivations or prejudices of authors.
  • Questions about experimental data are appropriate, but need to be phrased in a way that does not imply any misconduct on the part of the authors. If a reader is concerned about potential misconduct, such concerns must always be raised with senior editorial staff at PLOS. Contact the journal.

PLOS is the final arbiter of the suitability of content for inclusion in PLOS web sites.

Flagging Inappropriate Content

Readers are encouraged to request review of a comment that does not adhere to PLOS Commenting Guidelines. To request review, click the  “Report a concern” link in the bottom-right corner of the window. Indicate why the content should be reviewed (“Spam,” “Offensive,” “Inappropriate,” or “Other”), enter additional information in the text box, and click “Submit”. PLOS staff will investigate the content, which may involve consulting external experts if necessary.

Any content that PLOS staff deem to be inappropriate will be removed. Any users who consistently post inappropriate material will have their user privileges removed. If any contribution is removed, all subsequent responses along its thread will also be removed.

PLOS is the final arbiter of the suitability of content for inclusion in PLOS web sites.