PLoS ONE is an open-access peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLoS). It was established in 2006 as a beta version. In August 2008 it moved from a weekly publication schedule to a daily one, publishing articles as soon as they became ready. In October 2008, it came out of “beta.” In September 2009, PLoS ONE made full online usage of every published article publicly available. The founding managing editor was Chris Surridge. He was succeeded by Peter Binfield in March 2008.

In 2006, PLoS ONE published 138 articles; in 2007, just over 1,200 were published; in 2008 it published nearly 2,800 articles; 4,406 were published in 2009; 6,749 in 2010; and 13,798 published in 2011. PLoS ONE is the largest open-access journal in the world. Nearly 1 in 60 of all articles indexed by PubMed in 2011 were published by PLoS ONE.

PLoS ONE covers primary research from any discipline within science and medicine. All submissions go through an internal and external pre-publication peer review, but are not excluded on the basis of lack of perceived importance or adherence to a scientific field. PLoS ONE instead, only verifies whether experiments and data analysis were conducted rigorously, and leaves the scientific community to determine importance, post publication, through debate and comment. This, however, is not always achieved in practice since editors and reviewers might have a biased opinion about the articles they are reviewing which in turn might lead to the acceptance or rejection of papers of doubtful quality or intent.

Each submissions is assessed by a single member of the PLoS ONE Editorial Board before publication, whom concentrates on technical rather than subjective concerns and may involve discussion with other members of the Editorial Board and/or the solicitation of formal reports from independent referees. Published papers are made available for community-based open peer review involving online annotation, discussion, and rating.

Being an online-only publication allows PLoS ONE to publish more papers than a print journal. It does not restrict itself to a specific scientific area in an effort to facilitate publication of research on topics outside, or between, traditional science categories. Papers published in PLoS ONE can be of any length, contain full color throughout, and contain supplementary materials. Reuse of articles is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License, version 2.5.

The journal’s editorial board consists of nearly 2,600 academics and has made use of more than 35,000 external peer reviewers in just the first four years in publication. PLoS ONE publishes about 70 percent of all submissions. On average, each submission is reviewed by 2.8 experts.

As with all journals of the Public Library of Science, PLoS ONE is financed by charging authors a publication fee. This business model allows PLoS journals to provide all articles as open-access (free to the public). As of July 2010, PLoS ONE charges $1,350 to publish an article. However, the journal waives the fee for authors who do not have sufficient funds.

This model was not without controversy, however. Richard Poynder argued that journals such as PLoS ONE that charge for authors for publication rather than charging users for access may produce a conflict of interest that reduces peer review standards (accept more articles, earn more revenue). Stevan Harnad instead argued for a “no fault” peer review model, in which authors are charged for each round of peer review, regardless of the outcome, rather than for publication.

PLoS had been operating at a loss until 2009. It covered its operational costs for the first time in 2010, largely due to the growth of the PLoS ONE journal.

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.”

Journal Citation Reports analyzed PLoS ONE for the first time in 2010, giving it an impact factor of 4.411. The Scopus Journal Analyzer reported a “trend line” (total citations to all articles ever published received in a year divided by total number of articles published in that year) value of 3.74 for PLoS ONE for the year 2009.

PLoS ONE has published articles from a number of Nobel laureates, including Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Jack W. Szostak, Oliver Smithies, and Barry Marshall.

Image Caption: PLoS ONE logo. Credit: Wikipedia

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