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''PLOS One'' (stylized ''PLOS ONE'', and formerly ''PLoS ONE'') is a
peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field Field may re ...
open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research outputs are distributed online, free of cost or other access barriers. With open access strictly defined (according to the 2001 definition), or Gratis vers ...

open access
scientific journal In , a scientific journal is a intended to further the progress of , usually by reporting new . Content Articles in scientific journals are mostly written by active scientists such as students, researchers and professors instead of profession ...
published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) since 2006. The journal covers
primary research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis of information to increase understanding of a topic or issue. A research project may be an expa ...
from any discipline within
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as an invention. ...

science
and
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
. The Public Library of Science began in 2000 with an online petition initiative by Nobel Prize winner
Harold Varmus Harold Eliot Varmus (born December 18, 1939) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), co ...
, formerly director of the
National Institutes of Health The National Institutes of Health (NIH ) is the primary agency of the United States government The federal government of the United States (U.S. federal government or U.S. government) is the national government of the United States ...
and at that time director of
Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK or MSKCC) is a oncology, cancer treatment and research institution in New York City, founded in 1884 as the New York Cancer Hospital. MSKCC is the largest and oldest private cancer center in the world ...
; Patrick O. Brown, a biochemist at Stanford University; and
Michael Eisen Michael Bruce Eisen (born April 13, 1967) is an American computational biologist and the editor-in-chief of the journal eLife ''eLife'' is a selective, not for profit peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people ...
, a computational biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Submissions are subject to an
article processing charge An article processing charge (APC), also known as a publication fee, is a fee which is sometimes charged to authors to make a work available open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which outputs a ...
, and according to the journal, papers are not to be excluded on the basis of lack of perceived importance or adherence to a scientific field. All submissions go through a pre-publication review by a member of the board of academic editors, who can elect to seek an opinion from an external reviewer. In January 2010, the journal was included in the ''
Journal Citation Reports ''Journal Citation Reports'' (''JCR'') is an annual publicationAnnual publications, more often simply called annuals, are periodical publications appearing regularly once per year."Annuals", in ''Encyclopedia of library and information science'' ( ...
'' and received its first
impact factor #REDIRECT Impact factor#REDIRECT Impact factor The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometric index calculated by Clarivate that reflects the yearly average number of citations of articles publish ...
of 4.411. ''PLOS One'' papers are published under
Creative Commons licenses A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copie ...

Creative Commons licenses
.


History


Development

The
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is an American foundation established by Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore and his wife Betty I. Moore in September 2000 to support scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements a ...
awarded PLOS a $9 million grant in December 2002 and $1 million grant in May 2006 for its financial sustainability and launch of new free-access biomedical journals. Later, ''PLOS One'' was launched in December 2006 as a
beta version A software release life cycle is the sum of the stages of development and maturity for a piece of computer software Software is a collection of instructions that tell a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry ...
named ''PLOS One''. It launched with commenting and note-making functionality, and added the ability to rate articles in July 2007. In September 2007, the ability to leave "
trackback A trackback allows one website to notify another about an update. It is one of four types of linkback methods for website A website (also written as web site) is a collection of web pages and related content that is identified by a common d ...
s" on articles was added. In August 2008, the journal moved from a weekly to a daily publication schedule, publishing articles as soon as they became ready. ''PLOS One'' came out of "beta" in October 2008. In September 2009, as part of its article-level metrics program, ''PLOS One'' made its full online usage data, including
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HTML
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s and
PDF Portable Document Format (PDF), standardized as ISO 32000, is a file format ogg-file: 154 kilobytes. A file format is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for pe ...
or
XML Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a markup language #REDIRECT Markup language In computer text processing, a markup language is a system for annotation, annotating a document in a way that is Syntax (logic), syntactically distinguishable fro ...

XML
download statistics, publicly available for every published article. In mid-2012, as part of a
rebranding Rebranding is a marketing strategyMarketing strategy is a process that can allow an organization to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Strategic pla ...
of PLoS as PLOS, the journal changed its name to ''PLOS One''.


Output and turnaround

The number of papers published by ''PLOS One'' grew rapidly from inception to 2013 and has since declined somewhat. By 2010, it was estimated to have become the largest journal in the world, and in 2011, 1 in 60 articles indexed by PubMed were published by ''PLOS One''. By September 2017, ''PLOS One'' confirmed they had published over 200,000 articles. By November 2017, the journal
Scientific Reports ''Scientific Reports'' is an online peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of ...
overtook ''PLOS One'' in terms of output. At ''PLOS One'', the median review time has grown from 37 days to 125 days over the first ten years of operation, according to Himmelstein's analysis, done for ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
''. The median between acceptance and posting a paper on the site has decreased from 35 to 15 days over the same period. Both numbers for 2016 roughly correspond to the industry-wide averages for biology-related journals.


Management

The founding managing editor was Chris Surridge. He was succeeded by Peter Binfield in March 2008, who was publisher until May 2012. Damian Pattinson then held the chief editorial position until December 2015. Joerg Heber was as
editor-in-chief An editor-in-chief, also known as lead editor or chief editor, is a publication's editorial leader who has final responsibility for its operations and policies. The highest-ranking editor of a publication may also be titled editor, managing edito ...
from November 2016 before Emily Chenette took over in that position in March 2021.


Publication concept

''PLOS One'' is built on several conceptually different ideas compared to traditional peer-reviewed scientific publishing in that it does not use the perceived importance of a paper as a criterion for acceptance or rejection. The idea is that, instead, ''PLOS One'' only verifies whether experiments and data analysis were conducted rigorously, and leaves it to the scientific community to ascertain importance, post publication, through debate and comment. According to ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
'', the journal's aim is to "challenge
academia An academy (Attic Greek Attic Greek is the dialect of the of , including the ' of . Often called classical Greek, it was the dialect of the for centuries and remains the standard form of the language that is taught to students of . As the ...

academia
's obsession with journal status and
impact factor #REDIRECT Impact factor#REDIRECT Impact factor The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometric index calculated by Clarivate that reflects the yearly average number of citations of articles publish ...
s". Being an online-only publication allows ''PLOS One'' to publish more papers than a print journal. In an effort to facilitate publication of research on topics outside, or between, traditional science categories, it does not restrict itself to a specific scientific area. Papers published in ''PLOS One'' can be of any length, contain full color throughout, and contain supplementary materials such as multimedia files. Reuse of articles is subject to a
Creative Commons Attribution License A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted "work".A "work" is any creative material made by a person. A painting, a graphic, a book, a song/lyrics t ...

Creative Commons Attribution License
. In the first four years following launch, it made use of over 40,000 external peer reviewers. The journal uses an international board of academic editors with over 6,000 academics handling submissions and publishes approximately 50 % of all submissions, after review by, on average, 2.9 experts. Registered readers can leave comments on articles on the website.


Business model

As with all journals of the Public Library of Science, open access to ''PLOS One'' is financed by an
article processing charge An article processing charge (APC), also known as a publication fee, is a fee which is sometimes charged to authors to make a work available open access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which outputs a ...
, typically paid by the author's institution or by the author. This model allows PLOS journals to make all articles available to the public for free immediately upon publication. As of April 2021, ''PLOS One'' charges a publication fee of to publish an article. Depending on circumstances, it may waive or reduce the fee for authors who do not have sufficient funds. PLoS had been operating at a loss until 2009 but covered its operational costs for the first time in 2010, largely due to the growth of ''PLOS One''. The success of ''PLOS One'' inspired a series of other open access journals, including some that have been criticized as "
megajournalA mega journal (also mega-journal and megajournal) is a peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qual ...
s" having broad scope, low selectivity, and a pay-to-publish model using
Creative Commons licenses A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copie ...

Creative Commons licenses
.Rhodri Jackson and Martin Richardson, "Gold open access: the future of the academic journal?", Chapter 9 in Cope and Phillip (2014), pp. 223–248. ''The Future of the Academic Journal'', 2nd ed., Chandos Publishing, July 1, 2014, 478 pages.Bo-Christer Björk and David Solomon
Developing an Effective Market for Open Access Article Processing Charges
, March 2014, 69 pages. Final Report to a consortium of research funders comprising
Jisc Jisc is a United Kingdom not-for-profit company that provides network and Information technology, IT services and digital resources in support of higher education institutions and research. History The Joint Information Systems Committee ...
,
Research Libraries UK Research Libraries UK (RLUK) (formerly CURL) comprises 32 university libraries, 3 national libraries A national library is a library established by a government as a country's preeminent repository of information. Unlike public library, public ...
,
Research Councils UK Research Councils UK, sometimes known as RCUK, was a non-departmental public body which coordinated science policy in the United Kingdom from 2002 to 2018. It was an umbrella organisation that coordinated the seven separate research councils that ...
, the
Wellcome Trust The Wellcome Trust is a charitable foundation focused on health research based in London, in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1936 with legacies from the pharmaceutical magnate Henry Wellcome to fund research to improve human and animal ...
, the
Austrian Science Fund The Austrian Science Fund (german: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, FWF) is the most important Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ...
, the Luxembourg National Research Fund, and the
Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) is a Max Planck Society, Max Planck Institute whose research is aimed at investigating Theory of relativity, Einstein's theory of relativity and beyond: Mathematics, qu ...
.


Reception

In September 2009, ''PLOS One'' received the Publishing Innovation Award of the Association for Learned and Professional Society Publishers. The award is given in recognition of a "truly innovative approach to any aspect of publication as adjudged from originality and innovative qualities, together with utility, benefit to the community and long-term prospects". In January 2010, it was announced that the journal would be included in the ''
Journal Citation Reports ''Journal Citation Reports'' (''JCR'') is an annual publicationAnnual publications, more often simply called annuals, are periodical publications appearing regularly once per year."Annuals", in ''Encyclopedia of library and information science'' ( ...
'', and the journal received an impact factor of 4.411 in 2010. According to the ''
Journal Citation Reports ''Journal Citation Reports'' (''JCR'') is an annual publicationAnnual publications, more often simply called annuals, are periodical publications appearing regularly once per year."Annuals", in ''Encyclopedia of library and information science'' ( ...
'', the journal has a 2020
impact factor #REDIRECT Impact factor#REDIRECT Impact factor The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a scientometric index calculated by Clarivate that reflects the yearly average number of citations of articles publish ...
of 3.240.


Abstracting and indexing

The articles are indexed in:


Response to controversial publications


Alleged sexism in one peer review instance

On April 29, 2015, Fiona Ingleby and Megan Head, postdoctoral fellows at the
University of Sussex , mottoeng = Be Still and Know , established = 1959 – University College of Sussex1961 – royal charter granted for university status , type = Public university, Public research university , endowment = £14.4 million (2020) , budget ...

University of Sussex
and
Australian National University The Australian National University (ANU) is a national research university located in Canberra Canberra ( ) is the capital city of Australia. Founded following the Federation of Australia, federation of the colonies of Australia as t ...
respectively, posted a rejection letter, which they said was sent to them by a peer reviewer for a journal they did not wish to name. The rejection letter concerned Ingleby and Head's paper about differences in PH.D.-to-postdoc transition between male and female scientists. The reviewer argued that the authors should "find one or two male biologists to work with" to ensure the manuscript doesn't drift into "ideologically biased assumptions", comments which the authors found to be "unprofessional and inappropriate" and veering into
sexism Sexism is prejudice Prejudice can be an affective Affect, in psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as ...
. Shortly afterward, the journal was reported to be ''PLOS One''. By May 1, ''PLOS'' announced that it was severing ties with the reviewer responsible for the comments and asking the editor who relayed them to step down. ''PLOS One'' also issued an apology statement following the incident.


CreatorGate

On March 3, 2016, the editors of ''PLOS One'' initiated a reevaluation of an article about the functioning of the human hand due to outrage among the journal's readership over a reference to "Creator" inside the paper. The authors, who received grants from the Chinese National Basic Research Program and National Natural Science Foundation of China for this work, responded by saying "Creator" is a poorly-translated idiom ( 造化( ), literally "(that which) creates or transforms") which means "nature" in the Chinese language. Despite the authors' protests, the article was retracted. A less sympathetic explanation for the use of "Creator" was suggested to ''
The Chronicle of Higher Education ''The Chronicle of Higher Education'' is a newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of serial Serial may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and ...
'' by Chinese-language experts who noted that the academic editor listed on the paper, Renzhi Han, previously worked at the Chinese Evangelical Church in Iowa City. Sarah Kaplan of ''
The Washington Post ''The Washington Post'' (also known as the ''Post'' and, informally, ''WaPo'') is an American daily newspaper A newspaper is a Periodical literature, periodical publication containing written News, information about current events and is ...

The Washington Post
'' presented a detailed analysis of the problem, which she named ''#CreatorGate'', and concluded that the journal's hasty retraction may have been an even bigger offense than the publication of the paper in the first place. To contrast ''PLOS One''s handling of the problem, she used a 12-year history of retraction of the fraudulent paper on vaccine and autism by ''
The Lancet ''The Lancet'' is a weekly peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a prof ...
'' and the lack of a retraction of a debunked study on " arsenic life" by ''
Science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...
''. Others added the history of the article in ''
Nature Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, material world or universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter an ...
'' on "
water memory Water memory is the purported ability of water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constitu ...
" that was not retracted either.
Jonathan Eisen Jonathan Andrew Eisen (born August 31, 1968) is an United States, American Evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist, currently working at University of California, Davis. His academic research is in the fields of evolutionary biology, genomi ...
, chair of the advisory board of a sister journal ''
PLOS Biology ''PLOS Biology'' is a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research. Content Articles in scienti ...
'' and an advocate for
open-access Open access (OA) is a set of principles and a range of practices through which research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis o ...
, commended ''PLOS One'' for their prompt response on
social media Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) ...

social media
, which in his words "most journals pretend doesn't even exist". David Knutson issued a statement about the paper processing at ''PLOS One'', which praised the importance of post-publication peer review and described their intention to offer open signed reviews in order to ensure accountability of the process. From March 2 to 9, the research article received total 67 post-publication reader comments and 129 responses on ''PLOS One'' site. Signe Dean of
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put #CreatorGate in perspective: it is not the most scandalous retraction in science, yet it shows how a social media outrage storm does expedite a retraction.


Rapid-onset gender dysphoria controversy

On August 27, 2018, the editors of PLOS One initiated a reevaluation of an article published two weeks earlier by Brown University School of Public Health assistant professor Lisa Littman. The study described a phenomenon of social contagion, or "cluster outbreaks" in
gender dysphoria Gender dysphoria (GD) is the distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity Gender identity is the personal sense of one's own gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating bet ...
among young people, which Littman called "rapid-onset gender dysphoria". Data was obtained from a survey placed on three websites for concerned parents of children with gender dysphoria, asking for responses from parents whose children had experienced "sudden or rapid development of gender dysphoria beginning between the ages of 10 and 21". The study was criticized by transgender activists like
Julia Serano Julia Michelle Serano (; born 1967) is an American writer, musician, spoken-word performer, trans– bi activist, and biologist. She is known for her transfeminist books '' Whipping Girl'' (2007), ''Excluded'' (2013), and ''Outspoken'' (2016). ...
and medical professionals like developmental and clinical psychologist Diane Ehrensaft, as being politicized and having self-selected samples, as well as lacking clinical data or responses from the adolescents themselves. On March 19, 2019, PLOS One completed its review. Reviewer Angelo Brandelli Costa criticized the methods and conclusion of the study in a formal comment, saying, "The level of evidence produced by the Dr. Littman’s study cannot generate a new diagnostic criterion relative to the time of presentation of the demands of medical and social gender affirmation." In a separate letter apologizing for the failure of peer review to address the issues with the article, PLOS One Editor-in-chief Joerg Heber said, "we have reached the conclusion that the study and resultant data reported in the article represent a valid contribution to the scientific literature. However, we have also determined that the study, including its goals, methodology, and conclusions, were not adequately framed in the published version, and that these needed to be corrected." The paper was republished with updated Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methodology, Discussion, and Conclusion sections, but the Results section was mostly unchanged. In her correction, Littman emphasized that the article was "a study of parental observations which serves to develop hypotheses", saying "Rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) is not a formal mental health diagnosis at this time. This report did not collect data from the adolescents and young adults (AYAs) or clinicians and therefore does not validate the phenomenon. Additional research that includes AYAs, along with consensus among experts in the field, will be needed to determine if what is described here as rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) will become a formal diagnosis."


References


External links

* {{PLoS, state=collapsed Continuous journals Creative Commons Attribution-licensed journals
English-language journals Academic journal An academic or scholarly journal is a periodical publication in which Scholarly method, scholarship relating to a particular list of academic disciplines, academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as permanent and t ...
Multidisciplinary scientific journals Open access journals PLOS academic journals Publications established in 2006