The journal Nature has pulled an online experiment that allowed the public to review and comment on scientific papers.

Citing a lack of participation,the scientific publicationannounced the end of the four-month trial inviting scientists whose papers were short-listed for publication to post their work online for public review.

The trial was intended in part to determine whether an open review process would weed out fraudulent or poor quality papers, the editors told the Wall Street Journal.

But Nature's editors said the majority of scientist authors were both unwilling to post their work and unwilling to criticize the work of others. As well, there wasn't overwhelming participation from the public at large.

Of the 1,369 papers short-listed for potential publication between June and September 2006, only 71 were posted online. These papers received a combined 92 technical comments and half of these comments were confined to just eight papers.

The technical merits of the comments were also not particularly useful. The average comment received a score of 1.8 on a scale from one to five, with one signifying a comment that was "actively unhelpful" and five reserved for comments that directly influenced whether or not to publish the paper. No comment received a rating five for either editorial or technical value.

Nature's decision comes in the same week the non-profit Public Library of Science unveiled its own online collaborative editing experiment.

The new online scientific journal, called PLoS ONE, invites readers to post comments and questions about published articles, all of which are free to access.