PLoS has taken a close look at the way scientific and medical publishing works now, and has asked how the Internet can be used to make it work better. As a result, virtually everything about PLoS ONE is new: the peer-review strategy, the production workflow, the author experience, the user interface, and the software that provides the publishing platform.
Harold Varmus, Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of PLoS and President of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, remarks, "For those of us who have been engaged with PLoS from its conception, the launch of PLoS ONE is tremendously exciting;this is the moment when we seize the full potential of the Internet to make communication of research findings an interactive and fully accessible process that gives greater value to what we do as scientists."
PLoS ONE was first described to the research community back in June 2006, and the response to the proposal has been enthusiastic and sustained. Although PLoS ONE opened its doors to manuscript submissions only in August, it already receives in excess of 100 submissions each month and launches with the publication of 100 peer-reviewed research articles. The volume of articles is unprecedented for a journal launch, and is an indication of the strong support within the research community for the PLoS ONE approach.
The articles published today have been peer-reviewed under the guidance of an extensive academic editorial board, and cover a bro ad range of research topics, from basic molecular science to clinical studies. Specific subjects include the evolution of language1, the control of rabies2, mimicry of jumping spiders3, and Alzheimer's disease4. And because the articles are published under an open access license, these scientific riches are free for everyone to read, reuse, and build upon.
The work published at the launch of PLoS ONE is impressive in its own right, but the power of this project really lies in what happens after publication. In almost all other journals, publication of a research paper is a full stop. The next significant step forward will be the publication of another paper following on from the previous work. But in PLoS ONE, as soon as an article is published, a conversation between authors and readers can begin. There might be a question about a method that is described in the article, a link to another useful work or resource that can be added, or an alternative interpretation that can be offered for some of the results. In each case, readers and authors can respond to the addition, and everyone else can benefit from the resulting dialogue. The possibilities are without limit, and the applications of this technology will no doubt hold some surprises.
The beta version5 of PLoS ONE that is launched today is a work-in-progress. It is presented in beta because PLoS wishes the community to help shape PLoS ONE, and the underlying publishing platform, into its most valuable form. The software is open source6, and will form the first part of an innovative and flexible publishing system that will be developed over the next two years and will be available to all groups for storing, disseminating, and sharing literature and data.
PLoS ONE will accelerate the pace of scientific research because publication is faster and more interactive than ever before. No longer need there be months of delay between submission and publication. Now there is a way to share not only the results of research but also the responses, ideas, and opinions of fellow researchers as well.