Review Commons is now LIVE

“ASAPbio and EMBO Press just launched Review Commons, a platform for high-quality, journal-independent peer review of manuscripts in the life sciences before they are submitted to a journal. 

PLOS is part of a group of affiliate journals that have agreed to consider submissions with transferred reviews from Review Commons without restarting the review process. All of our journals within scope — PLOS Biology, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Genetics, PLOS ONE and PLOS Pathogens — now welcome submissions reviewed at Review Commons.

Authors can submit preprints or unpublished manuscripts to Review Commons for expert peer review coordinated by professional editors at EMBO Press. Authors can then decide the best home for this Refereed Preprint which contains the manuscript, the reviewers’ reports plus any author responses. …”

A deeply flawed paper in an Elsevier journal accuses PLOS of mismanagement

“1. This paper is not comparing the right journals (part 1). PNAS/MS/PLOS ONE is not the right comparison. Need to evaluate Elsevier’s PLOS ONE-like journals, Scientific Reports (Nature), G3 (GSA), PeerJ – other mega journals. Is it a PLOS ONE signal or something common to these journals? 


2. This paper is not comparing the right journals (part 2).  PNAS and MS are not general biology journals. PNAS publishes physics. PNAS has a massive rejection rate. Different world. I have no idea what the journal of Management Science is, but I would be highly surprised if they were getting the same DNA analysis papers as PLOS ONE. It may very well be that if you compare to other journals, subscription and open access, which take similar papers, the activity of the editors might be the same as at PLOS ONE.


3. Out of 7,000 PLOS ONE editors, this paper flagged issues with very few, focusing on 10 unusual ones. What if you look at 7,000 academic editors of subscription journals? Would you find problems with 10, 20, 100?

4. This paper is looking at editor activity. It is not looking at quality and soundness of typical papers in PLOS ONE. PLOS requires sharing of data, unlike others. PLOS requires sharing of raw Western blots, unlike others. PLOS requires and ensures many things while handling submissions in a way that all journals should but often do not. It is possible that an average paper in PLOS ONE is more reliable than an average paper at many other subscription non-mega-journals .


6. This paper’s abstract starts with “PLOS ONE has relied on a single-tier editorial board comprised of ?7000 active academics, who thereby face conflicts of interest relating to their dual roles as both producers and gatekeepers of peer-reviewed literature.” Excuse me. That has nothing to do with PLOS ONE or open access: every society journal with academic editors is precisely this.


7. Speaking of conflict of interest – this paper accuses the Public Library of Science of mismanagement with its title “Megajournal mismanagement: Manuscript decision bias and anomalous editor activity at PLOS ONE”; it is a flawed attack on PLOS ONE, published in an Elsevier journal. How is that okay?

8. The person that sent it to you wrote, “For those of you who have submitted articles to PLOS, or are thinking of it. Interesting but unfortunate editorial practices…” That is a statement against PLOS Biology, PLOS Genetics, etc – none of which are subject to this study. This study focuses on PLOS ONE, but even there, I am not sure if there is a signal of anything specific to the journal, as I highlight above….”

Is PLOS Running Out Of Time? Financial Statements Suggest Urgency To Innovate – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Time may be running out for the Public Library of Science (PLOS).

The San Francisco-based, non-profit open access (OA) publisher released its latest financials, disclosing that it ran a US $5.5 million dollar deficit in 2018 on $32M dollars of revenue. In order to cover this loss, it dug deep into its savings and sold off nearly $5M in financial investments.

This is not the first time the publisher spent more than it earned. Indeed, the last time PLOS made surpluses was 2015, when it had $30.6M in the bank. By 2017, PLOS’ savings had been cut nearly in half to $17M, and fell again to $11M in 2018. At the same time, 2018 salaries and other employee compensation went up by $1.8M (8%) from 2017, despite publishing 11% fewer papers….”

Why engage with preprints? | The Official PLOS Blog

“Preprints enable authors to share their work early, openly, and in a way that is free from journal influence or stylistic preferences. They also open up possibilities for pre-publication commentary that have previously been limited to a group of trusted confidants and hand-selected (often anonymous) peer reviewers invited by the editors. The opening up of comments via email, Twitter, or on the preprint server has the potential to expand the number of voices involved in the peer review of manuscripts, to allow the development of a preprint in parallel with the formal peer review, and to accelerate the research process.

To explore these opportunities, we recently launched a preprint commenting pilot, which will enable handling editors at PLOS Journals* to better access and utilize comments left on preprinted submissions for consideration in their review of the manuscript.

While the announcement speaks for itself, we also wanted to give more context for our work in engaging with preprints and facilitating comments more broadly. Driven by our work alongside the research community, these fall into three major strategic directions:

1. A more equitable platform for community review….

2. Published outputs should be shaped by the scholarly process, and not by publishers’ preferences or requirements….

3. More editorial activity is better for all concerned, including researchers but also publishers, and may save everyone time….”

Community Comments and Peer Review: A preprint commenting pilot at PLOS  | The Official PLOS Blog

“Researchers have told us that posting manuscripts as preprints before—or at the same time as—submitting them to a journal is a great way to gain additional feedback from the community and improve their paper. Could the same community feedback also help improve the quality and speed of the review process at a journal? We’re launching a pilot to find out….”

Substance Use, Misuse and Dependence Collection Launching Today | EveryONE: The PLOS ONE blog

“Substance use, misuse and dependence and their associated harm present a challenge to people across the globe, of all ages, representing a substantial healthcare burden and a challenge to individuals and society as a whole. Understanding the scope of this multifaceted problem and identifying effective prevention and treatment approaches will require input from researchers and clinicians across disciplines from medicine and public health to the social sciences. Today, PLOS ONE launches an interdisciplinary Collection, in coordination with and complementing a PLOS Medicine Special Issue, exploring the individual, social, structural, and environmental factors that contribute to risk or resilience for substance use disorders, determine their medical consequences, and support recovery outcomes….”

Health and medical research for all: The challenge remains open

“Five years ago, we commented that “open access to medical research has become more complicated than just choosing an idealistic new journal over regressive old ones”, referring to the labyrinth of hybrid subscription and article processing charge publishing models that exists, often disingenuously crafted so as to protect the business models of for-profit publishers. This unhelpful situation prevails today and prevents access in a fashion that could honestly be described as “open”, for many readers, to a large proportion of newly published research papers. We hope that the ongoing initiative Plan S—supported by the research funder group cOAlition S—will be able to resolve this issue by 2021….”

Welcome to Open Access Week 2019! | The Official PLOS Blog

“It’s Open Access Week! This year, publishers, librarians, researchers, and institutions are discussing and organizing events around the theme: “Open for whom?” 

Why is that question so important? Well, over the past 20 years, OA research has surged from as few as 523 articles in 2001 (OASPA) to as much as 45% of all new research publications (Piwowar et al). Now that Open Access is a staple of scientific communication, we should be using that momentum to promote greater inclusivity for every discipline, every career stage, and every demographic of researcher….

APC models have dominated the space from the launch of the first Open Access journals in the early 2000s. The model assumes researchers’ funding can help pay for the costs of publishing in order to make the work immediately and freely available to the public. While this model has gained widespread recognition from funders, and even become a mandate of taxpayer-funded research and policies like Plan S, not all authors who want to publish Open Access have the funding to do so. 

Many journals, like PLOS, offer fee-assistance programs for authors who lack the funding, particularly for researchers in low and middle-income countries. But these programs don’t cover every researcher or every paper. We need to look beyond APCs to partner with libraries, institutions, and funders to ensure authors can choose where to publish and how to share it with the world….”

Trends in Preprints | The Official PLOS Blog

“It’s not only PLOS-facilitated preprinting that is on the up, we’ve also seen an increase in the number of authors telling us they’ve already posted a preprint of their manuscript before submitting to a PLOS journal….

PLOS’ preprint posting service appears to be very popular among scientists based in African institutions. While we have posted the highest volume of preprints from the USA, China and European countries, it is African countries that dominate our opt ins – with eight of the ten highest opt in rates. At the top of the list are Uganda and Tanzania, where over 30% of corresponding authors chose to post a preprint at submission….”


15 Years of a Movement for Open Access Medical Science | Speaking of Medicine

“To kick off the celebration of PLOS Medicine‘s 15th Anniversary, Specialty Consulting Editor Sanjay Basu discusses the journal’s contributions to scientific communication and his favorite article from the past 15 years. 

It’s fitting that one of PLOS Medicine’s most viewed and cited articles remains the cult classic, Why Most Published Research Findings Are False (2005). The article codifies the challenge taken up as a mantle by the contributors and editors of PLOS Medicine for the last 15 years: to make science more transparent, reproducible, and trustworthy….”