The US National Library of Medicine (NLM) recently announced the closure of PubMed Commons. It was hoped that the service, launched in 2013, would provide a forum for scientific discussion online. Authors of articles indexed in PubMed were able to register and then add public comments to other PubMed-indexed articles. Interaction among members was encouraged, via methods such as rating the usefulness of comments and inviting other members to join discussions.
Despite this, participation has been low and comments have been added to only 6000 of the 28 million articles on PubMed, leading the NLM to withdraw the service. New comments could not be added after 15 February 2018 and, as of 3 March 2018, existing comments can only be seen by downloading them from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website.
Is the failure of PubMed Commons indicative of a wider lack of engagement with medical publications? Or is it simply a reflection of the choices that must be made by time-poor researchers?