PLOS ONE Publishes its 100,000th Article

PLOS ONE publishes its 100,000th article – a pretty major milestone for a journal that has seen its fair share of momentous events, and a perfect opportunity to reflect on this journey.

 PLOS ONE began seven and a half years ago. On the day of its launch – as has become the legend in the PLOS offices – there was an earthquake in the Bay Area, heralding the tremors that would be felt through the science world as a result of the disruptive innovation underway. PLOS ONE was an aspirational idea for PLOS from the very beginning: our founders always intended to launch a multi-disciplinary, broad-acceptance journal that would shake off the vestiges of the print tradition – no limits to the scope of research, number of pages, or potential growth.

And grow it did. After two years PLOS ONE had published over 4,000 articles, by four years it was the largest journal in the world, and now seven years after launch has published 100,000 articles. The revolutionary model of PLOS ONE has been emulated the world over: virtually every publisher now has its own equivalent “megajournal.”

PLOS ONE is now a major force in the scientific literature. The top 2% PLOS ONE papers (by number of views) have been collectively viewed nearly 39 million times, cited on Scopus over 80,000 times, bookmarked by Mendeley readers over 150,000 times, tweeted over 59,000 times, cited 2,800 times on Wikipedia, and recommended over 300 times on F1000 Prime.

The enduring value of PLOS ONE to the scientific process lies in the solid union between the three following factors: speed to publication, high standards of science, and unrestricted scope of research.

Speed to publication:

Faster time to publication was the founding principle of PLOS ONE. It doesn’t just entail going from submission to publication more quickly (although that is also important). It means dramatically reducing the time from an author’s decision to publish their findings to the time those results appear in public. That time is often years in the old system of review, where subjective opinions of significance and scope lead to unnecessary rejections and resubmission to different journals. With PLOS ONE, where scientific rigor alone is assessed, this time window shortens to a few months.

High standards:

PLOS ONE instituted rigorous standards from the start. As the volume exponentially increased and the quality of the submissions became more variable, these checks became more important and more rigorous. For every paper the journal staff (over 100 strong, including 14 editors) now check each of the following before a manuscript is sent for review:

  • Competing interests
  • Financial disclosures
  • Quality of English language
  • Ethical approval for animal experiments
  • IRB approval for human experiments
  • Protocols and CONSORT for clinical trials
  • PRISMA for systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • Cell line provenance
  • Field sample provenance
  • Humane endpoints in animal studies
  • Data availability
  • Plagiarism

The care that we take in reporting and oversight is rooted in PLOS’ commitment to this editorial responsibility.

Because of these checks, every PLOS ONE citation on a researcher’s CV shows that their work has reached high standards of reporting and oversight – something that matters a great deal to funders and institutions as the need for reproducibility becomes increasingly a part of their overall mission. This is an area where we feel journals can take a lead: high standards of reporting are the best way for the scientific community to regain the trust of the public and politicians in the wake of the recent spate of failures in replicating high-profile discoveries.

Unrestricted scope:

So many of the delays in sharing results are a result of journals putting unnecessary restrictions on the scope of the research they are willing to publish. Journals often withhold the release of negative findings because they are likely to be cited less, and will therefore lower their impact factor. Or they exclude papers purely due to the application of disciplinary boundaries. In this digital age, with no space restrictions on what can be published, such artificial limits only impede the flow of information. At PLOS ONE, we have thrown out these notions and will consider vital research across all subject areas (even seemingly strange and multi-disciplinary).

A heartfelt 100k thank you

The impact of PLOS ONE on scientific publishing has been tremendous and revolutionary. The world of scientific communication is a different place because of it, and that is something PLOS and its entire community of collaborators should be proud of.

The extraordinary PLOS ONE Editorial Board, reviewers and authors – who believed in the PLOS mission to accelerate research communication and gave their own time to review, edit and revise manuscripts – were critical to this transformation and share in this milestone. To each and every one of them PLOS ONE is eternally grateful.

So here’s to the 100,000th PLOS ONE article. Though thrilled to have reached this milestone, we are even more excited to see where the next 100,000 will lead.

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Thanking Our Peer Reviewers

In 2013 PLOS ONE published 31,500 articles, nearly 8,000 more than in 2012. In reaching this milestone, we would like to take a moment to recognize the hard work and dedication of our peer reviewers. Without their critical insight, support, and hard work, we couldn’t do what we do.

Last year we had over 78,000 unique reviewers from 172 countries. The top 20 institutions that contributed nearly 4,000 reviews are represented below (find the interactive version here).Reviewer word cloud

We would like to send a sincere thank you to all of our amazing peer reviewers. We are enormously grateful for your contributions and look forward to working with you in the New Year!

In addition to PLOS ONE’s record-breaking year, PLOS has just announced the publication of its 100,00th article, so we also  extend our thanks for the hard work of the peer reviewers contributing to all of the PLOS journals.

Best wishes in the New Year!



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Thanking Our Peer Reviewers

What a year it has been! As 2013 commences we would like to take a moment to recognize the peer reviewers that made the previous year possible. In 2012 over 60,000 people reviewed for PLOS ONE, up from 38,400 in 2011. These thousands of generous individuals donated their time to assessing and improving our authors’ submissions. Their combined efforts have helped PLOS ONE publish over 23,000 articles this year and added a vast wealth of knowledge to the Open Access corpus. We here at PLOS ONE would like to give thanks to these amazing individuals. Without their critical insight, support, and hard work we couldn’t do what we do.

Though we are unable to mention each individual by name here, we would like to tell you more about the PLOS ONE reviewer board as a whole. Our reviewers come from 154 countries, from Albania to Argentina and Mexico to Monaco. 26,749 reviewers submitted 2 or more reviews in 2012.

As in previous years, we can also provide a list of the Top 25 institutions whose members contributed reviews last year. They are, in no particular order:

  • Duke University
  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Washington
  • Stanford University
  • University of Florida
  • CNRS
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Cambridge
  • Vanderbilt University
  • University of Minnesota
  • Imperial College London
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Harvard Medical School
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Alabama
  • University College London
  • Mayo Clinic
  • NIH
  • Emory University
  • University of British Columbia
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Karolinska Institutet

Again, we would like to send a hearty thank you to the over 60,000 peer reviewers of 2012. We are enormously grateful for your contributions and will look forward to working with you in the New Year!

Image: Thank You by mandiberg.