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How to Get Started with PaperCritic (and Why You’d Want To)

critique / ★★½There has been quite a bit of press lately about the peer review process and access to journal articles, namely, how these are controlled by some of the bigger-name journals (at great expense to libraries and users). The point of this post is not to argue the rights and wrongs of review and access of journal articles. What I’d like to highlight here is a complementary service to Mendeley that can help you curate your own subsection of journal articles, including comments and reviews to and from fellow academics who weren’t invited to review the articles the first time around.

PaperCritic is a open publication review tool that uses the Mendeley API in order to facilitate commentary and review of journal articles. In short, you can connect it to your Mendeley account and then comment on articles publicly, including rating them on readability, quality of argument, and other fields. Check out the PaperCritic tour for more details on the particulars.

Why would you want to use PaperCritic? Frankly, who hasn’t looked at a journal article at some point in their career and wondered, “how in the heck did this get past reviewers?” Or maybe you know that a particular paper is extremely critical to have one your radar if you’re in a particular line of research. Or maybe you know that a paper has a certain set of flaws that can affect its use in later studies and want to note that to other potential readers. PaperCritic could become an effective tool for crowdsourcing insight and reviews into journal articles that normally doesn’t happen as a part of the formal peer review process.

For the tool to be effective, it needs to have an audience of users. I don’t think PaperCritic has a critical mass of users yet, but I could foresee it being very helpful in my fields if other people latch on to Mendeley as a information management tool.

How do you keep conversations about research information going beyond very static journal web pages? Let us know in the comments.

[Image Creative Commons licensed / Flickr user spDuchamp]

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