PLOS as a Publisher
In less than a decade, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) has helped to liberate tens of thousands of research articles and to advance scientific discovery as a pioneer of open-access (OA) publishing. Our journals have now established OA as an effective and sustainable way to share the latest and best research with everyone.
The Flagship Journals
Recognizing the need for prestigious publications to rival existing elite journals such as Science and Nature, PLOS entered the publishing arena in October 2003 with the launch of PLOS Biology, followed in October 2004 by PLOS Medicine. These two journals quickly established PLOS as a publisher of high-quality research and began to attract the attention — and submissions — of researchers throughout the world.
The Community Journals
The next major step came in 2005, when PLOS launched three of its four discipline-based community journals — PLOS Genetics, PLOS Pathogens, and PLOS Computational Biology. In 2007, with the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PLOS launched PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. These publications are typical of scholarly publishing as a whole and show how high-quality community-run OA journals can work. Support from academic leaders has rapidly catapulted these journals to the top of their respective fields.
The Journal for the Whole of Science
While PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, and the PLOS community journals were enough to secure the organization’s position as a top-tier publisher, PLOS pushed the OA envelope yet again in 2006 with the debut of PLOS ONE. All research articles are evaluated through peer review and must be judged to be rigorous, ethical, and properly reported. After publication, the broader research community can use interactive tools, for example article-level metrics, to determine the importance, or impact, of each article. The PLOS ONE approach to publishing has the potential to make research communication much more rapid, open, and efficient, accelerating the pace of discovery.
Even More Rapid Communication
Maintaining our commitment to speeding up research by minimizing the delays to sharing information, in 2009 we introduced PLOS Currents, which can make research available to the public in as little as 24 hours. PLOS Currents is an innovative publication that uses web-based tools for authoring and publication. The contributions are rapidly reviewed by experts, can be cited so that authors gain the necessary recognition for their work, and are publicly archived at PubMed Central. By accelerating the sharing of new findings in this way, PLOS Currents has the potential to accelerate the research cycle itself. You can watch this video to learn more.
Improving Research Assessment
PLOS believes that there is much to be gained from assessing research articles on their own merits rather than on the basis of the journal (and its impact factor) where the work happens to be published. Until recently, however, readers have simply not had suitable tools to give them any indication of the quality (or “impact”) of an individual article. All PLOS articles feature a suite of article-level metrics that includes measures of online usage; citations from the scholarly literature; social bookmarks; blog coverage; and the Comments, Notes, and “Star” ratings that have been made on the article. A reader can now scan the various metrics to determine the extent to which the article has been viewed, cited, covered in the media, and so forth.
Blogs and Hubs
The most recent innovations at PLOS were launched in Fall 2010. PLOS launched a new Blog network for discussing science and medicine in public, covering topics in research, culture, and publishing. The PLOS Blogs network is different from other blogging networks, because it includes a mix of science journalists (including a Pulitzer Prize winner) and researchers.
We also launched PLOS Hubs: Biodiversity to show how open-access literature can be reused and reorganized, filtered, and assessed to enable the exchange of research, opinion, and data between community members. This website aggregates content from a wide range of publishers, and expert Curators select the articles. Some of this content is then enriched with additional publicly available information, such as a taxonomy hierarchy, species images and descriptions, and interactive maps showing the origins of museum species.