A new Editor-in-Chief for PLOS ONE


Dear PLOS ONE community,

What a joy it is to write this letter – to have the opportunity to reflect on the strengths of PLOS ONE and consider how we can best meet your needs in the years ahead. I’m writing to you to share what you can expect from me as Editor-in-Chief of PLOS ONE, and to call for your feedback and your perspective on what we’ve gotten right, and where we can improve.

I am a molecular biologist by training. I received my PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2004, and studied gene expression signatures in lung cancer cells while a postdoc at Duke University. As a brand-new postdoc I had the experience that I am sure will be familiar to many of you of writing grants to secure funding for my research – and I realised, during this process, that what I really loved about scientific research was not the process of making the discoveries myself, but reading papers and considering how pieces of research fit together to advance discoveries. So, in 2007, I left the lab to begin working in science publishing. I joined PLOS ONE in 2018 after positions at the FEBS Journal and Nature Cell Biology. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work closely with our former Editor-in-Chief Joerg Heber, who brought such meaningful and important changes to the journal to support scientific communication and our academic community.

I am excited to continue this work to serve the PLOS ONE community. From our board of nearly 10,000 Academic Editors to the authors, reviewers and readers who support the journal, we are embedded in a community of scientists and researchers who want to transform scholarly communication. I am committed to listening to our community to understand how we can best meet your needs and working with you to change science communication for the better – and always with the principles of openness, transparency, rigor and reproducibility in mind.

PLOS ONE has always supported these principles: we strongly believe that open science is trusted science. Under Joerg’s leadership, our commitment became increasingly tangible as we worked closely with our community to develop policies and practices that support Open Science throughout the lifecycle of a research project (Figure 1). In 2018, we developed links with bioRxiv to support authors who wished to post a preprint of their manuscript at the time of submission to PLOS ONE. Although our publication times are fairly speedy, this step helps ensure that all research is publicly available as soon as possible and helps authors receive credit for and feedback on their work. Importantly, preprints also offer a way to begin addressing some of the current limitations with the peer-review process, including issues around transparency, recognition and trust.

In 2019, we released Peer Review History to allow authors to opt in to making the reviewers’ reports and decision letters part of the publication record. Reviewers can also opt in to signing their reviews to receive credit for their work and bring additional recognition to this essential job. We’ve also recently launched Study Protocols, which complement our existing Registered Report framework in supporting authors to receive early feedback on their study design. Lab Protocols, another new article type, were developed in partnership with protocols.io, and represent a sleek and efficient way to peer-review and share research methods while allowing those who developed a specific technique to receive credit for their important contributions.

Figure 1: Recent steps along the path towards Open Science

I am proud of what the journal has accomplished in recent years towards the goal of transforming scholarly communication. From supporting preprints and other Open Science initiatives to enabling authors to publish (and receive credit for) the continuum of research, we are leading a transformation in research communication. But there is more to do. 

What matters to me most is that you feel that your work has a home in PLOS ONE. Addressing this means building deeper links with our communities – listening to and learning from you, and understanding how we can support you in publishing your research, whether as protocols, preprints or papers. The steps that we take towards greater transparency, openness and trust in research will be with our community as partners. 

I will also continue to create opportunities for reviewers and editors to receive credit for their work, and investigate new avenues for author feedback. For example, we’ve recently developed links with the Peer Community In communities, have explored hosting preprint journal clubs and have developed a pilot project to integrate comments on preprints into the “traditional” review process. We will keep experimenting, keep tweaking and keep refining as we assess ways to make the review process more meaningful and impactful for all involved. 

Finally, I will ensure that we deliver on our commitment to supporting research into areas around inequities and inequalities, while seeking to identify and minimise potential sources of bias in our manuscript-handling practices. Some of this work has already begun, and I look forward to sharing our progress with you. 

I want you to know how important your feedback is to me and to the journal, and I welcome all comments and suggestions on what we’re doing right and where we can improve. You can find me on Twitter at @emilychenette, or reach me via email at echenette@plos.org.

Thank you so much for your support of PLOS ONE and Open Science. I look forward to working with you all to continue PLOS’ mission of transforming research communication.

Emily

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