Many discussions are instigated by peer-reviewed academic publications, which are subsequently covered by popular media (for example, here). In this situation, it seems obvious to me the question should provide an informative link to the original article.
For biology questions, I propose that PubMed is the most useful resource to link to, and we should routinely include this link for any question that refers to an academic biology publication.
Here is my reasoning:
- PubMed is publicly accessible, well funded, frequently used, and therefore safe from link rot.
- PubMed usually provides a summary/abstract of the article.
- PubMed usually links to the original article, but always provides sufficient information to find the original article. It frequently stores the publication in its own publicly available archive (PubMed Central), even when it is not freely available on the publisher's website.
- PubMed automatically provides links to related articles, which will help the reader to identify if the issue is controversial.
- PubMed also tracks academic debates, specifying if there have been direct responses to the original article, as was the case for the article in question above.
- Inclusion in PubMed can be taken as evidence of notability.
- PubMed is developing "PubMed Commons", which will host public responses from recognized experts.
- PubMed provides a standardized, simple entry point for accessing publications.
If the PubMed record is not sufficiently detailed, then a link to the original publication may be preferable. Likewise, a link to a well-written layman's summary should be included when possible (I am generally impressed by the New York Times, Scientific American, and the Economist). Too many of our questions involve links to extremely dumbed-down and distorted summaries of the original publication.
But as a rule, if an article addresses a recent peer-reviewed biology publication, I think it should include a PubMed link by default. What do you think?