The International Council on Nanotechnology

Remember, Nano-EHS Researchers are People Too

I need your help. ICON is preparing a modification to our Virtual Journal of Nano-EHS to allow users to rate papers they have read. While our survey on this topic generated an overwhelmingly positive response, we recognize that allowing the community to rate papers that have already passed through peer review is potentially sensitive. We want to make it clear that thoughtful, incisive commentary is welcome and trolls will be banned. Please help by submitting your thoughts on how to construct a useful Comment Guidelines policy that helps raters understand the purpose of the ratings and the "rules" for playing nice in the sandbox. If there are good examples out there relevant to scientific discussions (as opposed to consumer product sites such as Amazon) that would be helpful as well.

Here is my first pass at a Comment Guidelines policy.

Only rate papers you have read. Merely reading the abstract is not enough to evaluate a paper’s merits. ICON provides a link to the paper’s listing in the source journal where you may find it posted in its entirety or can purchase it if you are not a subscriber. We are unable to provide you with copies of papers in the VJ.

Only rate papers you are qualified to assess. This resource allows people with knowledge of nanomaterials, metrology, toxicology, environmental impact, etc. to bring that expertise to bear in evaluating the technical literature. If you are unfamiliar with the subject matter or the methods, don’t rate the paper.

Refrain from rating your own papers. If you are an author, please do not rate your own work. (Or get your mother or cousin or fishing buddy to do so.) You may leave a response to other raters in the comments box, in which case you should identify yourself as an author.
Evaluate each paper on its scientific merits. Well-meaning people can disagree about the attributes of the ideal nano-EHS paper. But well-meaning people do not slam a paper because the author prevailed over them in a proposal competition or turned them down for a post-doc position. If you are pursuing any agenda other than well-intentioned critique of nano-EHS research, do so elsewhere. For guidance on rating papers, please review our Recommended Criteria for Rating Papers in the Virtual Journal.

Use common courtesy and tact. Be professional, especially when submitting a less than flattering review. Remember, nano-EHS researchers are people too. Specific, constructive feedback will be received better than withering criticism. Substantive, well-written comments will earn you a following in the VJ as people seek out trusted experts to help them filter through the literature.

Do not pass yourself off as someone else. You are free to choose a username that obscures your identity but do not choose one that falsely identifies you as another real person or associates you with an organization with which you have no affiliation. Do not misrepresent the sector in which you work.

Do not abuse the comment box. The comment box is not the place to plug your work, promote your blog, sell your product, hurl insults, use profane language, etc. Any comments that are deemed inappropriate can be flagged and will be removed. Offenders will be barred from posting.

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