Welcome to the PLOS Progress Update 2012-2013, aimed at keeping our authors, reviewers, editors, and supporters fully apprised of our developments and activities over the past year.
Download the Progress Update (lo-res or hi-res for print) or scroll down to read it on this page. Our complete financial disclosure is also available. For a fuller historical picture of how far we have come, read the Progress Updates from 2009, 2010, and 2011.
From the Chair and CEO
PLOS is proud of its first decade as an early and critical advocate of Open Access scientific publishing. The organization has helped demonstrate that Open Access is viable, scalable and sustainable. PLOS has been key in inspiring new and established publishers to offer true Open Access, and in encouraging governments and institutions around the world to pursue policies that enable a progressive approach to scholarly communication.
The founding vision of PLOS has been realized through what is today a freely accessible, openly reusable online library of research, supported by thousands of scientists who contribute to and depend on a suite of seven influential journals—including PLOS ONE, now the largest journal in the world.
Open Access is undeniably established as a publishing model and is gaining more momentum each day, but barriers remain in scientific communication. PLOS is dedicated to accelerating the dissemination of research through ongoing, smart innovation, increasing the efficiency and quality of peer review, encouraging greater collaboration and advocating wider reuse. Scientific research must be liberated not only from the bounds of traditional publishing models, but also from the limitations of outdated formats and metrics. To this end, PLOS enthusiastically endorses the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which advocates for reduced reliance on Impact Factors. With fellow Open Access advocates, PLOS supports ambitious standards for open data and promotes Article-Level Metrics (ALMs) and other new ways to evaluate the importance of research to academia and to society.
PLOS is grateful to the authors, readers, reviewers, editors, advisors, librarians, funders, collaborators and staff who have supported its mission as an advocate, publisher and innovator, and redoubles its commitment to universal, barrier-free science research communication.
Gary Ward, Chairman of the Board
Elizabeth Marincola, Chief Executive Officer
OA Momentum and Community
ADVOCATING FOR PROGRESSIVE OPEN ACCESS POLICIES
PLOS has continued to collaborate with others in the Open Access community to capture the interest and support of researchers, governments, funders and the public. In the United States, PLOS helped to publicize a petition to expand public access to federally funded science research. The petition ultimately gathered 65,000 signatures and resulted in a White House Directive requiring major US federal agencies to draw up plans for providing better access. In the United Kingdom, PLOS provided testimony to the government’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee in relation to Research Councils UK’s implementation of the “Finch Report” recommendations.
UNDERSTANDING OPEN ACCESS
With the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), PLOS created the “HowOpenIsIt?” Open Access Spectrum (OAS) to enable deeper understanding and comparison of publishers’ Open Access policies. The guide helps authors make informed decisions on where to publish. It also provides a resource for funders and other organizations to establish criteria for the level of Open Access required for their policies. To accompany the guide, PLOS worked with Cottage Labs to create the “HowOpenIsIt?” Open Article Gauge (OAG), currently in beta. Researchers and funders can enter DOIs or PubMed IDs into the OAG service to check the licensing terms under which the associated articles can be accessed and/or reused.
PLOS hosted several hackathons with organizations such as eLife, PeerJ, ImpactStory and Force 11. The events encourage the community to consider challenges and expectations from different perspectives, and served both to foster collaboration and to incubate new ideas for transforming publishing. Topics have ranged from alternative metrics to a language for converting text to HTML.
ACCELERATING SCIENCE AWARDS PROGRAM
With major sponsors Google and the Wellcome Trust, and 24 additional organizations, PLOS launched the Accelerating Science Awards Program (ASAP). The ASAP program recognizes individuals who have applied research published through Open Access to make a transformative difference in any field. Results will be announced during the launch event for Open Access Week 2013 (in October), hosted by SPARC and the World Bank, with three winners each receiving a $30,000 award.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
The number of blogs in the PLOS Blogs Network doubled during 2012-13, with new blogs on topics ranging from paleontology to climate modeling, and from citizen science to the interface of science and art. The blogs complement PLOS journal content with timely coverage of issues such as vaccine safety and obesity. Bloggers are supported by a range of guest posters; in February 2013, a post from White House honoree, high school student scientist and Intel Award winner Jack Andraka, went viral, attracting more than 28,000 visitors in two days. Beyond blogging, PLOS has also increased its usage of Twitter and has 91,000+ followers across PLOS channels.
Advancing Scholarly Publishing
ARTICLE-LEVEL METRICS: A NEW ERA IN THE EVALUATION OF RESEARCH
PLOS encourages the evaluation of research at the article level and was one of the first publishers to display Article-Level Metrics (ALMs) on every article. ALMs provide a full and constantly updated picture of how a paper is being used from the moment it is published online. Traditional metrics, such as citations and online usage, and altmetrics, such as coverage on social media, are provided. Many other publishers have since adopted ALMs, and new businesses are now emerging to demonstrate research impact in these ways.
Over the last year, PLOS has increased its ALM program to allow users to view and download ALMs for any article. These ALM Reports enable users to chart data and identify patterns and trends. PLOS also released the first iteration of ALM Relative Metrics to provide context: they display the average usage calculation for similar articles published in the same time period and research areas, allowing users to evaluate relative performance in different fields.
In November 2012, PLOS welcomed 45 thought leaders in the ALM community to a workshop on new ways to measure science. Representatives from universities, funders, libraries, publishers and developers gathered to discuss challenges and opportunities. A concurrent hakathon organized by PLOS and ImpactStory provided developers with an opportunity to collaborate on experiments with altmetrics data. PLOS is also involved in National Information Standards Organization (NISO) efforts to bring standards and best practices to altmetrics.
In May 2013, PLOS was an original signatory of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which is closely aligned with its work in ALMs. The Declaration was initiated by the American Society for Cell Biology and advocates a move away from using journal-level metrics, such as the Impact Factor, as a proxy for evaluating individual articles or scientists. DORA encourages consideration of the value and impact of all research outputs, including datasets and software. It proposes that the definition of impact be broadened to include, for example, influence on policy and practice.
PLOS continues to pursue openness in data use and reuse. The aim is for anyone to be able to analyze data (to repeat authors’ results) and reuse data (to build on the authors’ findings). In pursuit of this goal, PLOS is expanding its pilot with Dryad. This program provides authors with a permanent Open Access data repository, which assigns unique digital object identifiers (DOIs) for each data “package” (all data associated with a single published article). PLOS Biology and PLOS Genetics are piloting the Dryad repository to host data while articles are under review, providing confidential access to the underlying data for editors and peer reviewers.
EVOLUTION OF THE ARTICLE
PLOS is evolving the scientific article into a more dynamic form of communication. A new partnership makes the supporting information associated with articles more accessible and discoverable. The Figshare widget displays supporting information within the article, regardless of file type (whether dataset, text, document, animated, video or presentation files). This allows users to search, download and manipulate the material in ways not previously supported.
PEER REVIEW AND OPEN SOURCE CODE
The PLOS Computational Biology Software collection highlights open-source software shown to provide new biological insights. It has been steadily gathering momentum, with 14 research articles published to date, enabling reusability of their open source code. PLOS supports Mozilla Science Lab’s new experiment to explore the interface between software engineers’ code review and the peer review of scientific articles that include code. Starting in August 2013, the experiment will include snippets of code from previously published PLOS Computational Biology articles.
REDESIGN FOR SPEED, SUCCESS AND FLEXIBILITY
PLOS has redesigned its journal websites with three primary objectives: to ensure readers can quickly assess the relevance and importance of an article; to improve site navigation; and to launch a flexible platform from which to build out future innovations. The new websites offer more prominent figures, an immediately accessible subset of ALM data called Metrics Signposts, custom saved search, author data, faster navigation and more. They were awarded “Best in Class” for nonprofit websites at the 2013 Interactive Media Awards.
LAUNCHING PLOS LABS
PLOS’s vision of better and faster science communication is reflected in the formation of PLOS Labs. This group tests new and disruptive ideas through rapid development of software prototypes and active engagement with researchers and the scientific community. PLOS Labs will collaborate with inventive individuals, organizations and publishers, within and beyond its community. PLOS will share prototypes to gather feedback on both the concepts and implementation, and coordinate development projects with partnering organizations to implement ideas.
Publishing Research Responsibly
The inability to reproduce results can significantly hinder scientific progress but, to date, scientists have had limited options for validating findings. PLOS ONE is participating in a project to enable replication and certification of valid research. The Reproducibility Initiative is a collaboration between three innovators: Science Exchange enables experiments to be reproduced objectively, PLOS ONE provides a recognized outlet in which results of replication studies can be published, and Figshare provides a means of sharing associated data quickly and efficiently.
AVAILABILITY OF CLINICAL TRIALS
Led by PLOS Medicine, PLOS is supporting two initiatives that reflect its commitment to making all clinical trial results available. The AllTrials campaign is petitioning for all trials, old and new, to be registered and results publicly reported. The Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (RIAT) program builds on this approach, with a focus on unpublished, distorted or abandoned trials. PLOS Medicine and PLOS ONE will both allow submissions of “restored” trial reports, not only from the authors of the original studies, but also from “restorative” authors who can obtain documentation and data from abandoned trials via freedom of information requests.
DISCLOSURES AND SPIN IN PUBLISHING
PLOS Medicine continues to be at the forefront of ethics in publishing. An editorial argued that disclosure of competing interests may exacerbate bias rather than ameliorate it. Disclosures reveal important details for assessing the credibility and value of information, but reliance on disclosure policies does not address the real problem of conflicts of interest, and it may actually make the situation worse. A research study analyzed how results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are distorted by the use of spin – specific reporting strategies, intentional or unintentional, that emphasize the beneficial effect of the experimental treatment. The researchers identified spin in about half of the press releases and media coverage they analyzed, and RCT findings were overestimated in about a quarter of news items and press releases.
Collections: Innovative Publishing
PLOS Collections, which aggregate interdisciplinary content from PLOS journals, focus not only on scientific topics but also on the topic of publishing itself. PLOS created three new collections in 2012-13 to highlight innovation and transformation in publishing.
SOFTWARE: A PIONEER IN THE SHARING OF SOURCE CODE
Open-source software is increasingly recognized as having an important role in enabling peer review, reproducibility and reuse of research. The PLOS Computational Biology Software collection breaks new ground by sharing the source code behind the experiments reported in the journal; in each case, the code is made available under a license approved by the Open Source Initiative. The 14 articles currently in the collection address biological problems including drug development and environmental clean-up; the collection remains open for submissions.
TEXT MINING: HIGHLIGHTING THE BREADTH OF DEVELOPMENTS
The rate of growth of the scientific literature has now outstripped the ability of individuals to keep pace with new publications. As more articles become digitally and openly available, text mining tools can help to retrieve and extract information more efficiently. The Text Mining collection provides an overview of the field, highlighting experimentation with new content types, such as electronic patient records and social media, and new subject areas, such as environmental sciences and humanities.
ALTMETRICS: EXPLORING IMPACT
PLOS ONE launched a collection, in collaboration with Altmetrics.org, to provide a forum for the discussion and dissemination of research on altmetrics. As the collection grows, it is expected to include statistical analyses of altmetrics data sources, identification of biases in measurements, validation of models of scientific discovery and other research relating to scholarly impact in online tools and environments.
Extending Article Content
PLOS Computational Biology advanced its project to boost Wikipedia’s content with the publication of four new topic pages, written in the style of a Wikipedia article. Topic pages represent a new level of interaction between publishers, researchers and the public. The review process is open, with readers and authors able to see the review history and reviewer identities. Once finalized, a version of record is published in PLOS Computational Biology and included as part of the Education collection. The text is uploaded to Wikipedia, where it may be further updated and enhanced by the Wikipedia community. The initiative, which was proposed and is run by the scientific community, has received positive feedback.
TEN SIMPLE RULES
The Ten Simple Rules collection remains one of PLOS’s most popular collections, with 29 articles and more than 1 million page views. This PLOS Computational Biology series provides researchers with a quick, concentrated guide for mastering professional challenges such as “Getting Published” and “Getting Grants.” Recent additions include “Ten Simple Rules to Commercialize Scientific Research” and “Ten Simple Rules for the Open Development of Scientific Software.”
An eBook pilot was announced in early 2013 by PLOS Computational Biology. Translational Bioinformatics can either be accessed online as individual chapters, or downloaded as a complete volume; an ePub version is also available. Each chapter has a unique identifier to enable linking, and the content is indexed in PubMed. Translational Bioinformatics can be used as a reference guide or textbook, and includes exercises.
PLOS Biology, which covers all aspects of biology, was the first journal by PLOS, in 2003–making this PLOS’s tenth year as a publisher. The journal’s Sustainability collection, which coincided with Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in June 2012, included a provocative editorial in which Editorial Board member Professor Georgina Mace of Imperial College London argued that sustainability science requires far stronger connections with environmental sciences, and that green economies need to be embedded in ecological principles rather than focused solely on economic growth. Another article in the collection argued that the macroecology of sustainability is under-represented in sustainability science, while a perspective article on the shifting boundaries of sustainability science offered the more optimistic view that greater sophistication in science-based resource management and improved economic models bring advances in linking ecology to the innovative management of complex resources.
Also in the front section of the journal, a perspective entitled “An Introduction to Social Media for Scientists” argued that online social media tools can be some of the most rewarding and informative resources for scientists, if they know how to use them. The article was the first to reach the 1,000-tweet threshold.
In the perspective article “‘Why Do We Have to Learn This Stuff?’—A New Genetics for 21st Century Students,” Rosemary Redfield of the University of British Columbia used her experience of redesigning genetics courses at her own institution to provide an informed polemic on the state of play of genetics teaching. She argued that the time is ripe for geneticists to “step back from the current curriculum and decide what 21st century students really need to know about genes and inheritance.” The article was a big hit with readers and attracted a flurry of Twitter activity and online discussion, which was captured on the journal’s blog, PLOS Biologue.
In the research section of the journal, scientists equipped bumblebees with radar transponders as they were busily collecting pollen, and attached motion-sensitive cameras to flowers to reveal how bees develop efficient routes to flowers.14 The article, which attracted a great deal of media attention, was published with an accompanying synopsis and was featured in a PLOS Biologue post.
Another study that received considerable media coverage revealed a novel mechanism by which stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system can promote breast cancer bone metastasis in mice. The data support the use of β-blockers and drugs interfering with RANKL signaling, such as denosumab, as possible therapies for women with breast cancer.
Other research with potential clinical implications showed that Siglec-1, a surface receptor on mature dendritic cells, boosts their uptake of HIV-1, leading to disease progression. This finding represents a novel mechanism of HIV-1 transmission and could pave the way for new therapeutic approaches aimed at preventing viral dissemination.
PLOS Medicine is the leading Open Access medical journal, providing an innovative and influential venue for primary research and analysis on the major challenges to human health worldwide.
Coinciding with the AIDS 2012 conference and sponsored by the HIV Modelling Consortium, PLOS Medicine published a collection, Investigating the Impact of Treatment on New HIV Infections, that addresses the question of whether it is possible to cut HIV transmission by using antiretroviral treatment.
Sponsored by the Maternal Health Task Force at the Harvard School of Public Health, the PLOS Collection on Maternal Health consists of outstanding research and commentary that aims to increase access to comprehensive maternal health data, programmatic experiences and lessons learned, and to promote awareness of critical areas of debate and growing consensus.
The Big Food series launched with an editorial explaining why “the multinational food and beverage industry,” with its “huge and concentrated market power” needs to be explored from a health perspective. It was accompanied by PLOS’s first “tweetchat” and has received press coverage in Time, the Los Angeles Times, ABC News and Voice of America.
Two leading tobacco control advocates debated the merits of a “smoker’s license.” Simon Chapman proposed a smart card designed to limit access to cigarettes and encourage smokers to quit; Jeff Collin argued that this approach would shift focus away from the tobacco industry, increase stigmatization of smokers and marginalize the poor.
As detailed in this Update’s section on “Publishing Research Responsibly,” PLOS Medicine continues to lead in this area, with an editorial on competing interest disclosures and bias, and a research article examining spin in RCTs.
A systematic review and meta-analysis revealed a causal relationship between non-sexual child maltreatment and a range of long-term health consequences, including mental disorders, drug use and suicide attempts. The study highlighted the importance of identifying those at risk and developing effective interventions to protect children from violence.
Another meta-analysis examined RCTs on metformin and its effects on cardiovascular morbidity or mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes. Even though metformin is considered the gold standard, the study showed that its benefit/risk ratio remains uncertain. Meanwhile, a Mendelian randomization analysis used data from observational studies to support a causal relationship between body mass index and risk for ischemic heart disease.
Another study found that long-term silica dust exposure among Chinese workers was associated with substantially increased mortality, and this increased risk was observed not only for deaths due to respiratory diseases and lung cancer, but also for deaths due to cardiovascular disease.
A New Zealand study showed that taxes on soft drinks and foods high in saturated fats, in addition to subsidies for fruit and vegetables, could lead to beneficial dietary changes and potentially improve health. The article is among the most viewed at the journal, and it was covered by The Huffington Post as well as the Los Angeles Times.
PLOS ONE is the world’s largest journal. The journal launched a new Synthetic Biology collection, highlighting this emerging interdisciplinary field; new articles will be added as the field continues to grow and develop. A collection of research papers on The World Register of Marine Species, an online database containing information on all known marine species, as well as some of their freshwater and terrestrial relatives, was launched in 2013.
Research articles that received widespread attention included one study in which scientists described how they printed a three-dimensional human ear in the lab from cartilage derived from a cow, a significant first step toward creating tissue implants for patients who require ear prosthetics. This research received coverage in Popular Science, Discovery News and the Associated Press.
Another study showed that New York’s JFK ranked as the US airport where people were most likely to spread disease. Over 100 media outlets summarized this article, including The Guardian, Time and CBS News. Researchers also revealed that African clawed frogs brought to California for pregnancy tests in the 1970s may have carried a deadly fungal disease to the state. The research received media attention from the San Jose Mercury News, Nature News and The New York Times.
An assessment of sugar availability and diabetes levels across 175 countries in the last decade showed a correlation between the two, independent of obesity. This article received attention from The Guardian, KQED Radio and The New York Times, and was also covered by the study’s authors in The Huffington Post. Meanwhile, wild varieties of the coffee plant might become extinct within the next 70 years, according to a study with coverage in over 200 news outlets, including The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report and Popular Science.
The discovery of a new monkey species called lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis sp. nov.) received attention from nearly 100 news outlets, including The New York Times, The Guardian and NPR. The discovery of a new carnivorous species of dinosaur, Dahalokely tokana, or “lonely little bandit,” filled an important gap in Madagascar’s fossil record, and was reported in stories at BBC News, Discovery News, Wired and CNET.
Protein structure researchers modeled oxidation’s detrimental effect on the stability of G-quadruplexes (G4-DNA), which may support a link between oxidative stress and carcinogenesis. This article was bookmarked by academics more than 600 times.
Another study reported methods for detecting early warnings of critical transitions using simulated ecological data, which may be applicable in a multitude of dynamic systems that experience unexpected transitions, from ocean circulation patterns to stock markets. A paper on nitrogen and phosphorus limitation over long-term ecosystem development in terrestrial ecosystems won an ecology award from the Theoretical Ecology Section of the Ecological Society of America.
PLOS COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY
PLOS Computational Biology is a society journal, aligned with the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), that publishes new research in all areas of biology using computational methods. In July 2012, Phil Bourne stepped down as the journal’s Editor-in-Chief after seven years and took on the new title of Founding Editor-in-Chief; while less involved in the day-to-day running of the journal, Phil remains fully involved in special projects and the front section. Ruth Nussinov, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief since 2010, has accepted the role of Editor-in-Chief.
Another major change came in October 2012, when—in response to discussions among the editorial board and the community—the journal announced an expansion in its scope. It will now include research articles describing outstanding methods that have been shown to, or have the promise to, provide new biological insights.
As detailed in this Update’s section on “Extending Article Content,” PLOS Computational Biology announced the PLOS eBook pilot, continued to expand its popular Ten Simple Rules collection and published four interactive topic pages. One example topic page, focusing on approximate Bayesian computation, received more than 10,000 views and 30 tweets in the first month of publication.
A “message from ISCB” article that described how to become a successful principal investigator was popular, attracting 6,500 views and 88 tweets within two weeks.
In the research section of the journal, an article that reported on the use of ant-like robots to investigate the behavior of ants moving through a network received media coverage in BBC News and National Geographic. The paper was viewed 6,000 times in the first week of publication.
Another study picked up by the media used mathematical models to estimate that up to 21% of herds that are cleared following movement restrictions relating to bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain may still be harboring infection. A paper focusing on the role of wild animals in transmitting sleeping sickness was covered by Science magazine, while a paper identifying several coexpression signatures that are nearly identical across different cancer types provided the basis for a model that recently won the Sage Bionetworks/DREAM Breast Cancer Prognosis Challenge.
PLOS Genetics publishes new research in genetic and genomic biology. The journal also hosts a collection of interview articles by Jane Gitschier, who has been the journal’s interview editor since it launched in 2005. Gitschier’s many interviewees include computer scientist David Haussler, who “stands among the pantheon of computer scientists who have framed our capacity to interpret DNA,” and Caroline Dean, who has studied how plants acquire the ability to flower in the spring after exposure to the prolonged cold of winter.
One research article that attracted significant media attention found that the most recent interbreeding between Neandertals and modern humans likely took place between 37,000 and 86,000 years ago. There was also press coverage of an article on evolution in bears, which revealed that a distinct group of brown bears from the Alaskan ABC Islands are descendants of polar bears. A study on the genetic variants behind human facial morphology was covered by outlets including New Scientist and BBC News, while a research article on adaptation and the genetic architecture of short stature in Western African Pygmies was featured in Nature News.
The journal published a perspective arguing that data in a previously published PLOS Genetics research article is the most direct evidence to date that mammalian egg production continues into adulthood. Another perspective article highlighted research that couples the power of classical genetics with next-generation sequencing to provide a high-resolution recombination map of the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) genome.
PLOS NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases is devoted to the study of helminth, bacterial, viral, protozoal and fungal infections endemic to tropical regions. The journal celebrated its fifth anniversary in October 2012 with a commemorative editorial, two collections—on the Geopolitics of Neglected Tropical Diseases, and the journal’s Top Ten Research Articles—and a call for historical profiles and perspectives papers to highlight institutions and individuals with a major impact in the field, with a focus on accomplishments, challenges and lessons learned.
In May 2013, the journal launched the Strongyloides collection, which focuses on the human parasitic roundworm Strongyloides stercoralis. With research articles by roundworm experts from across the globe, the collection also presents viewpoints and review articles that highlight the need for sustained action to fight this disease.
An editorial by Editor-in-Chief Peter Hotez and colleagues drew attention to the disparity between rates of Chagas disease in Latin America and the US, reminiscent of the early years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The article was covered by a wide range of news sources, including The New York Times, CNN, Fox News and BBC News, and is among the most highly viewed articles in the journal’s history.
In a policy forum article, experts described the elements that proved successful in the national strategy to address lymphatic filariasis in Togo, which is likely to become the first sub-Saharan African nation to eliminate this debilitating vector-borne disease through mass drug administration and countrywide morbidity alleviation. The article was covered by several media outlets.
A proof-of-principle research study established that the elimination of onchocerciasis, or river blindness, with ivermectin treatment is feasible in at least parts of Africa. The study findings, which were covered by CNN, have implications for the evolution from control to elimination of onchocerciasis in Africa.
In another study, researchers developed the first model to consider Chikungunya risk in the US based on virus introduction by one individual. Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral infection that, although previously confined to regions in central Africa, has recently invaded more temperate regions. The research could help guide strategies to control mosquito populations and can be applied to other vector-borne diseases.
The discovery was reported of a new drug candidate that cures hookworm disease—a type of soil-transmitted parasitic worm infection—in an animal model. As reported in several news outlets, the findings could represent a new way to circumvent resistance to currently available drugs.
PLOS Pathogens publishes a variety of articles and topic-focused collections reporting new advances and ideas on bacteria, fungi, parasites, prions and viruses that contribute to our understanding of the biology of pathogens and pathogen–host interactions. Research article highlights from 2012-2013 demonstrate the depth and breadth of the journal’s reach, on a global scale, in reporting strides in pathogens research.
A September 2012 article described a new rhabdovirus associated with acute hemorrhagic fever in Central Africa. Dubbed the Bas-Congo virus after the Democratic Republic of the Congo province in which it was found, the virus exhibits the acute hemorrhagic fever associated with the worst cases of dengue, but it is more closely related to rabies. This article attracted more than 17,000 views within a few weeks and garnered coverage including National Geographic News Watch, NPR Shots and NBC News.
A study in which whole-genome sequencing helped to establish transmission patterns of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and badger populations in the UK was reported in November 2012.71 Infections in farm animals were also the focus of a study about Schmallenberg virus (SBV)—a new virus that affects animals such as cattle, sheep and goats, and has been rapidly spreading across Europe, causing malformations and stillbirths in these animals as well as economic hardship for farmers. The researchers developed new molecular tools and an experimental in vivo model for the study of SBV pathogenesis, and identified novel factors that affect SBV virulence in mice. Their tools and findings could lead to new strategies to control SBV outbreaks.
Two important articles in early 2013 attracted some of the most extensive press coverage the journal has received to date. One of these studies reported on HIV-infected post-treatment controllers—individuals who achieve control of their infection following interruption of prolonged antiretroviral therapy that was initiated close to primary infection. Within two days of publication, it became the most viewed PLOS Pathogens article of the year.
The second article reported on the development of a novel synthetic vaccine for foot- and-mouth disease, a topic of keen interest in the UK, the US and other countries around the world where the disease makes its presence well known.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, the journal’s Pearls collection has continued to grow and contribute a valuable resource to the community. Pearls are short educational articles that address important and wide-ranging topics within the field of pathogens research and are tailored to graduate students and post-docs. The most recent addition to the collection is a pearl published in July 2013 that reviewed the impact of emerging infectious diseases on human health and global stability.
Reinvesting in Science
The 2012 financial year represented a third consecutive year of sustainability for PLOS. Gross revenue grew 57% to $38.8 million (2011: $24.7 million), of which the increase in net assets was $7.15 million (2011: $3.95 million). PLOS’s expenses grew by 52% to $31.6 million (2011: $20.8 million), not least because of the increase in resources required to support the more than 26,000 articles published by the journals in 2012. This represents a 62% increase (2011: more than 16,000 articles); the total number of articles published by PLOS through 2012 was more than 68,000. PLOS continued to invest in infrastructure and innovation to transform and accelerate the publishing process, for example:
Improving publication speed: PLOS is continuing to work on new software to automate the conversion of the manuscripts it receives into web and PDF formats. PLOS progressed a new system to improve the accuracy with which it matches Academic Editors to submissions, which also helps to speed up the publishing process.
Enhancing discoverability: PLOS developed a custom taxonomy system that improves its search results, providing users with a greater number of more relevant results for their query. This was part of a wider redesign of the journal websites, which also improved site navigation and provided a more flexible platform from which to build out future innovations.
For the fourth consecutive year, PLOS has not raised publication fees. It continues to support those who are unable to pay all or part of their publication fees, with assistance in 2012 totaling $3.8 million in waivers to authors (2011: $2.2 million) and institutional assistance of $0.5 million (2011: $0.3 million). As part of this, PLOS created the Global Participation Initiative in 2012. This program assists authors from low- and middle-income countries.
THANKING PLOS SUPPORTERS
PLOS thanks the following foundations and sponsors for their support in 2012.
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The John D. and Catharine T. MacArthur Foundation
William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation
Harvard School of Public Health
Imperial College, London
Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy
Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG)
PLOS BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND MANAGEMENT (As of August 2013)
Board of Directors
Gary E. Ward, PLOS Chairman of the Board, Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Co-Director of the Vermont Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Vermont
Patrick O. Brown, PLOS Co-founder, Stanford University School of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Michael B. Eisen, PLOS Co-founder, Scientist, Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Elizabeth Marincola, PLOS Chief Executive Officer (ex officio)
Michael W. Carroll, Professor of Law and Director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property American University, Washington College of Law
Heather Joseph, Executive Director, SPARC
David Liddle, Venture Partner, US Venture Partners
Robin Lovell-Badge, Head of the Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, London
Rosalind L. Smyth, Director, Institute of Child Health, UCL, London
Marty Tenenbaum, Chairman and Founder, CommerceNet
Beth Weil, Former Head Librarian, Marian Koshland Bioscience and Natural Resources Library University of California, Berkeley
Elizabeth Marincola, Chief Executive Officer
Bruce Fingles, Chief Operations Officer
Richard Hewitt, Chief Financial Officer
Kristen Ratan, Chief Publications and Products Officer
Darlene Yaplee, Chief Marketing Officer
Liz Allen, Director of Product Marketing and Sales
Helen Atkins, Director of Publishing Services
Susan Au, Director of Finance and Accounting
Virginia Barbour, Chief Editor, PLOS Medicine; Medicine Editorial Director
Theodora Bloom, Chief Editor, PLOS Biology; Biology Editorial Director
Ray Campbell, General Counsel and Secretary
Paula Carter, Director of Project Management Office
Richard Cave, Director of IT and Computer Operations
John Chodacki, Director of Product Management
Jonathan Dugan, Director of PLOS Labs
Cameron Neylon, Director of Advocacy
Damian Pattinson, Editorial Director, PLOS ONE
Tracy Pelon, Director of Production Operations
Paul Raskin, Director of Customer Experience
Katie Sharabati, Director of Human Resources
PLOS Computational Biology
Ruth Nussinov, Editor-in-Chief
Gregory S. Barsh and Gregory P. Copenhaver, Editors-in-Chief
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Peter J. Hotez and Serap Aksoy, Editors-in-Chief
Kasturi Haldar, Editor-in-Chief