This week saw the government unveil plans to make publicly funded scientific research immediately available for anyone to read for free by 2014, “in the most radical shakeup of academic publishing since the invention of the internet.” Open Access has been the driving force behind some big changes in the academic publishing world.
Frank Norman very recently posted a most informative post entitled “Megajournals”, go and check it out if you haven’t already. One aspect that I wanted to delve a little bit deeper into out of the six Journals covered was PLoS ONE. Since its inception in December 2006, PLoS ONE has continued to grow in size and stature in a number of ways. Here’s a quick look at the number of articles published since 2006.
A large part of the reason for the spike in the dramatic rise since Q1 & Q2 2011 is the fact that that was the time that PLoS ONE received its first Impact Factor. That opened the floodgates in a big way and it can clearly be seen from above that this fact has led to a significant effect.
In December 2011, Catriona MacCallum from PLoS wrote “why ONE is more than five” which was published in PLoS Biology:
“Indeed, by publishing so many papers, PLoS ONE has an opportunity to help set reporting standards in science rather than follow existing ones. (Some countries and institutions, for example, have no independent ethical committee overseeing animal studies; although assessed on a case-by-case basis, such papers are generally rejected.) Every article submitted to PLoS ONE, therefore, goes through a series of rigorous checks to ensure that appropriate standards have been met, before an academic editor or reviewer even sets eyes on the paper”.
The concept of OA “Megajournals” appears to have started around June 2011 as per this post by Mark Patterson (at that time with PLoS, now with eLife):
“Remarkably, PLoS ONE became the largest peer-reviewed journal in existence inside four years (and will publish as much as 1.5% of the articles indexed in PubMed in 2011), and over the past 12 months has been emulated by many other established publishers in various disciplines”.
So in light of the above, where does PLoS ONE go from here in the next 1 - 2 years? Most probably within the next month, the PLoS Progress Update for 2011 will be due out. Here is the 2010 report.
Going back to the MacCallum article, Table 1 identifies a number of open access publishers at that time that were deemed to be similar to PLoS ONE.
As PLoS co-founder Michael Eisen stated in his 2011 post entitled PLoS Won:
“When Pat Brown, Harold Varmus and I started the Public Library of Science (PLoS) 10 years ago with the goal of making the scientific and medical literature a universally freely available resource, most people in the science publishing industry dismissed us as naive idealists who didn’t understand that publishing is a business that has to make money, or derided us as dangerous radicals hell-bent on destroying them. So it has given me considerable pleasure to watch, over the past year or so, as one traditional publisher after another has responded to the smashing success of PLoS ONE by launching direct rip-offs that seek to capitalize on the business model we have established”.
Most recently on 10th July, on the Official PLoS Blog, it was announced that PLoS had recently published their 50,000th article. “This milestone represents a significant contribution toward the public resource of unrestricted scientific research now open for discovery,” said Peter Jerram, CEO of PLoS. “We are proud to publish high-quality, peer-reviewed research that anyone can freely access at any time.”
If PLoS is anything to go by, then the future of open access is indeed bright. They fit the criteria of open access that the UK government is pushing for, and as their video below illustrates, they share some key ethos with figshare, that is that: ‘knowledge x access = progress’.