Plos

PLOS Authors Say “Yes” to Preprints

We’ve surpassed 1,300 preprint posts to bioRxiv!

This is an incredible milestone for us and for all of our authors who chose to opt-in to our preprint service since we announced our partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s bioRxiv six months ago. We wanted to bring an easy preprint-posting option directly to the submission process for our authors and are thoroughly excited with the results we’ve seen so far.

The road to preprints

As we began this journey, about 4% of our authors reported that they had posted their submission to a preprint server. While this base remains consistent, our preprint-posting service has built upon it to offer authors more choices. In the past six months we’ve seen an additional 14% opt-in to have PLOS post a preprint on their behalf, indicating that 18% of our authors want to use preprints to share their research.

Of course, the opt-in rate varies by discipline. On PLOS Computational Biology 46% of our authors choose to make a preprint of their manuscript available, with half of those posting before submission and the other half requesting PLOS post to bioRxiv on their behalf. In biology in general, the adoption is high. PLOS Biology, which joined the service later, is already showing a promising trend towards preprints by 39% of our authors (23% of which elect to have PLOS post on their behalf).

Every opt-in we get is screened by editorial staff before posting to ensure the article fits bioRxiv’s scope and that no sensitive information is accidentally shared. We have also taken a conservative approach and avoided posting research that could have an impact on human health before the claims have been peer reviewed, which is why we do not yet offer to post preprints for PLOS Medicine authors. We’re working in partnership with bioRxiv to refine the posting criteria as we learn more about the needs for early sharing in different communities.

Overall, the openness to new research outputs we’ve seen among our community of authors is inspiring and we hope to see preprint adoption grow even more over the coming year.  

 

Author choice

We like preprints because they put your research first. We’re making it easier for you to choose preprints as a way to rapidly disseminate your research results, establish priority, accumulate citations for your work, and receive input from your community that may help shape the future of your research.

That said, preprints aren’t for everyone or for every paper which is why authors choose when and how their work becomes available. We’re also listening to our community’s feedback to make our service as inclusive as possible.

Many of our authors still prefer to wait for peer review before making their results public. However, about a fifth of the authors who responded to a survey about why they had opted out said they are unfamiliar with preprints. We’re hoping to change that by offering everything you need to know at plos.org/preprints. More information about preprints is available on bioRxiv along with their posting guidelines. ASAPbio also offers very useful guidance for preprints, including preprint policy at other journals which may help clarify any concerns you have about submitting a manuscript after you’ve posted a preprint.

Where we go from here

We’ll continue learning from our community and sharing more information that helps you make the right decision for your paper. We’re also encouraging other preprint options to authors in areas that don’t fall under bioRxiv’s scope. Both PLOS Genetics and PLOS ONE have dedicated Preprint Editors to solicit submissions from various preprint servers and we’re looking at more opportunities.

If you’re thinking of posting a preprint for the first time, take advantage of this checklist to get started and review all the benefits preprints could have for your work.

 

Attention Earth Sciences: PLOS ONE wants YOUR Preprint

Dedicated team of Editorial Board Members are now actively seeking manuscripts in the Earth Sciences from preprint servers EarthArXiv and ESSoar.

Preprint servers offer a myriad of benefits to authors who are excited to share their work with the community as soon as possible, so we’ve offered our authors the ease of automatically posting their life science submissions on bioRxiv. But PLOS ONE is a community of many different voices and we want to help promote preprints in all disciplines. This includes providing authors with more reasons to post a preprint – on top of the advantages that posting a preprint already offer such as faster dissemination and allowing for input from the whole community. We’re therefore delighted to announce the introduction of a new program to invite submissions of posted preprint manuscripts specifically in the Earth and Space sciences. Our aim is to support authors posting their papers with a fast and efficient peer review process and journal publication of their work.

Introducing PLOS ONE Preprint Editors

Going forward, we’ve tasked a small group of PLOS ONE Editorial Board members with reviewing and inviting preprint submissions from EarthArXiv and ESSOAr that they feel would be a good fit for the journal. This group will be led by Section Editors Guy Schumann (Bristol University, UK) and Juan Añel (University of Vigo, Spain) along with dedicated Preprint Editors, Xialoe Sun (Stockholm University, Sweden) and Julien Bouchez (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France).

As part of this program, submissions invited through preprint servers will receive special attention from the staff editors which may include extra promotion on social media. Climate change papers may also be recommended to the “Responding to Climate Change” Channel, of which Juan Añel is also an editor.

“As a preprint editor one can have a substantial positive impact and contribute a potentially very high added-value to the scientific community of a particular research field.”

  • Guy Schumann, Section Editor PLOS ONE

We are truly excited to place this program in the hands of these individuals who’ve proven their dedication to their communities and eagerness to advance scholarly outputs for scientific communication in the Earth and Space sciences.

Why we choose preprints

Recruiting research from preprint servers is nothing new in academic publishing, other journals like PLOS Genetics and eLife already do so. Preprints represent huge opportunities for improvement on slow publication times. When it comes to critical issues like climate change and others, getting results out sooner can have a dramatic impact on our ability to advance science and foster early collaboration and debate on new research results.

“For me, a main advantage of preprints is that they can help to advance science faster, with public exposure of what is going on, what is cutting-edge”

  • Juan Añel, Section Editor PLOS ONE

I’ve never posted a preprint before, should I?

Yes! The benefits are endless. Preprints are an easy way to generate exposure for your research before you even decide where to submit (ESSOAr also accepts uploads of conference posters and other materials). When you post a preprint, you have immediate and unlimited reach allowing you stake the first claim on your methods and results, and even get early feedback from your community. Sounds great, right? Preprints are also beneficial for early career researchers who need discoverable, citable content that speaks to their academic contributions and can help advance their careers.

“Particularly for young scientists, who are the major driving force for science today and need a… good publication record to look for their next job, preprints would be a very [good] choice for them to publicize their findings in a timely way and “decorate” their CV”.

  • Xiaole Sun, Preprint Editor PLOS ONE

We encourage you to join us in our support of preprints, not just in the earth sciences but across all disciplines. Preprints are already one of the fastest growing research outputs, and we can all do our part to making it an even more successful outlet for new communities that are just beginning to explore its potential.

 

Towards minimal reporting standards for life scientists

A group of journal editors and experts in reproducibility and transparent reporting are putting together a  framework for minimal reporting standards in the life sciences. Part of this group, PLOS Executive Editor Veronique Kiermer shares a joint announcement.

Transparency in reporting benefits scientific communication on many levels. While specific needs and expectations vary across fields, the effective use of research findings relies on the availability of core information about research materials, data, and analysis. These are the underlying principles that led to the design of the TOP guidelines, which outline a framework that over 1,000 journals and publishers have elected to follow.

In September 2017, the second major TOP guidelines workshop hosted by the Center for Open Science led to a position paper suggesting a standardized approach for reporting, provisionally entitled the TOP Statement.

Based on discussions at that meeting and at the 2017 Peer Review Congress, in December 2017 we convened a working group of journal editors and experts to support this overall effort by developing a minimal set of reporting standards for research in the life sciences. This framework could both inform the TOP statement and serve in other contexts where better reporting can improve reproducibility.

In this “minimal standards” working group, we aim to draw from the collective experience of journals implementing a range of different approaches designed to enhance reporting and reproducibility (e.g. STAR Methods), existing life science checklists (e.g. the Nature Research reporting summary), and results of recent meta-research studying the efficacy of such interventions (e.g. Macleod et al. 2017; Han et al. 2017); to devise a set of minimal expectations that journals could agree to ask their authors to meet.

An advantage of aligning on minimal standards is consistency in policies and expectations across journals, which is beneficial for authors as they prepare papers for publication and for reviewers as they assess them. We also hope that other major stakeholders engaged in the research cycle, including institutional review bodies and funders, will see the value of agreeing on this type of reporting standard as a minimal expectation, as broad-based endorsement from an early stage in the research life cycle would provide important support for overall adoption and implementation.

The working group will provide three key deliverables:

  •       A “minimal standards” framework setting out minimal expectations across four core areas of materials (including data and code), design, analysis and reporting (MDAR)
  •       A “minimal standards” checklist intended to operationalize the framework by serving as an implementation tool to aid authors in complying with journal policies, and editors and reviewers in assessing reporting and compliance with policies
  •       An “elaboration” document or user guide providing context for the “minimal standards” framework and checklist

While all three outputs are intended to provide tools to help journals, researchers and other stakeholders with adoption of the minimal standards framework, we do not intend to be prescriptive about the precise mechanism of implementation and we anticipate that in many cases they will be used as a yardstick within the context of an existing reporting system. Nevertheless, we hope these tools will provide a consolidated view to help raise reporting standards across the life sciences.

We anticipate completing draft versions of these tools by spring 2019.  We also hope to work with a wider group of journals, as well as funders, institutions, and researchers to gather feedback and seek consensus towards defining and applying these minimal standards.  As part of this feedback stage, we will conduct a “community pilot” involving interested journals to test application of the tools we provide within the context of their procedures and community. Editors or publishers who are interested in participating are encouraged to contact Veronique Kiermer and Sowmya Swaminathan for more information.

In the current working group, we have focused our efforts on life science papers because of extensive previous activity in this field in devising reporting standards for research and publication.  However, once the life science guidelines are in place we hope that we and others will be able to extend this effort to other areas of science and devise similar tools for other fields.  Ultimately, we believe that a shared understanding of expectations and clear information about experimental and analytical procedures have the potential to benefit many different areas of research as we all work towards greater transparency and the support that it provides for the progress of science.

We are posting this notification across multiple venues to maximize communication and outreach, to give as many people as possible an opportunity to influence our thinking.  We welcome comments and suggestions within the context of any of these posts or in other venues.  If you have additional questions about our work, would like to be informed of progress, or would like to volunteer to provide input, please contact Veronique Kiermer and Sowmya Swaminathan.

On behalf of the “minimal standards” working group:

Karen Chambers (Wiley)

Andy Collings (eLife)

Chris Graf (Wiley)

Veronique Kiermer (Public Library of Science; vkiermer@plos.org)

David Mellor (Center for Open Science)

Malcolm Macleod (University of Edinburgh)

Sowmya Swaminathan (Nature Research/Springer Nature; s.swaminathan@us.nature.com)

Deborah Sweet (Cell Press/Elsevier)

Valda Vinson (Science/AAAS)

 

Manuscripts Selected For Live-streamed Preprint Journal Club Event

We are teaming up with PREreview during Open Access week to bring together scientists from around the world to discuss and review an actual preprint…live-streamed! We have now selected a manuscript for each discipline and finalized the moderators. Read the original blog here. Details about how you can register are at the bottom of the page.

Neuroscience – Monday, October 22, 9am PDT / 12pm EDT / 5pm GMT+1

 Bioinformatics – Tuesday, October 23, 9am PDT / 12pm EDT / 5pm GMT+1

Ecology – Wednesday, October 24, 9am PDT / 12pm EDT / 5pm GMT+1

REGISTER NOW to join us and invite others to come along. You can choose to join any (or all) of the subject areas listed above. We are using the video conference software Zoom, which is free to download. Please register and we will send you the information on how to join the calls.

Get ready to spend one hour with your fellow colleagues diving straight into the preprint and resurfacing with constructive feedback for the authors. This is a great opportunity to share your expertise with your peers from all over the world, learn about preprints, build your network, and get credit for your feedback.

Gathering Steam: Preprints, Librarian Outreach, and Actions for Change

Note: This post was written by Robin Champieux, Research Engagement and Open Science Librarian at OHSU.  Robin is the co-founder of the Metrics Toolkit and Awesome Foundation Libraries Chapter.  Her work and research is focused on enabling the creation, reproducibility, accessibility, and impact of digital scientific materials.

Librarians, are you talking about preprints? A preprint is a complete scientific article posted on a public server before peer review.  Preprints speed dissemination and encourage early feedback.  But, this post isn’t about defining preprints and their value.  It’s October, I’m a scholarly communication librarian, so I’ve been panicking–I mean thinking–about what do for Open Access Week.  This year, I’m focusing my outreach efforts on preprints and I want to tell you why.

I am passionate about open science and realizing its benefits, but I am just as passionate about supporting student, faculty, and institutional success.  These goals, which are increasingly aligned, require a deep understanding of the scholarly communication and research landscape and right now preprints are a center of conversation in this space1.  Funders like the NIH and Helmsley Charitable Trust are encouraging researchers to share and cite preprints, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is even requiring it:

“To encourage rapid dissemination of results, any publications related to this funded work must be submitted to a preprint server, such as bioRxiv, before the first submission to a journal.”2 

Journals are accepting manuscripts previously posted as preprints, inviting submissions from preprint servers, and linking to preprint versions of papers under consideration3.  The number of published preprints is rising4 and stakeholders are responding with support and concern5.

Researchers have to navigate this context and make decisions about how to share their work:  librarians can contribute to their success and affect change by responding to this need. In my experience, most researchers encounter and experiment with innovations in scholarly communication via specific points of choice or pressure. Librarian led outreach related to preprints can lead to conversations that catalyze a deeper interest in scholarly communication issues and changes. Collectively and over time these small and personal experiments and the discussions that surround them (including critical ones) help shift the needle towards openness.

I also believe in a definition of and critical approach to open science (and librarianship) that acknowledges how history, inequality, and privilege influence our scholarly communication practices and priorities.  Author and NYU Scholarly Communication Librarian April Hathcock advocates for flipping the script on how we view open:

“Rather than looking at it as a means of getting mainstream scholarship out to the margins, instead I want us to see it as a way of getting scholarship from marginalized communities into our mainstream discourse.”6

Preprints sit within a larger and evolving discussion about how scholarship is communicated and endorsed. I am excited about initiatives, like PREreview, that communities are developing around preprints to address issues of inclusion and representation in peer review.  From this perspective, preprints are a tool for democratizing “access to [and participation in] science on a global scale”7.  As librarians, we can support these projects and invent new ones that leverage preprints to take up April’s challenge.

So, what can you do to raise the volume on the “power of the preprint” and address the reasons why some researchers are reluctant to share them?:

  1. Do a deep dive on the preprints landscape.  ASAPbio’s preprint info center is a great starting place.
  2. Connect with your institution’s preprint champions and ask them about their motivations.
  3. Use your preprint and institutional knowledge to launch an engagement and demystification campaign.  Low bandwidth? Keep it simple by promoting existing events and reusing the work of others.
  4. Start a discussion with organizations on your campus working to address inequities and increase diversity in science about this year’s Open Access Week theme and the role preprints might play.
  5. Model the shift to open!  Share your own scholarship on LISSA, e-LIS and other preprint servers.

 

Failures: Key to success in science

This post was collaboratively written by PLOS staff (Ines Alvarez-Garcia, Phil Mills, Leonie Mueck and Iratxe Puebla)

Note: Join us Monday, October 15 at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas for a free interactive discussion with panelists from CamAWISE, University of Cambridge, the Sanger Institute, and Cambridge University Press to talk about how we can shift perceptions on failure and success in scientific careers.

Most scientists are fortunate to have a job that they love and feel passionate about, but a ‘successful’ career in research can be among the hardest career paths to pursue – dragons hide in almost every corner. In spite of many hours of effort and meticulous protocols, experiments fail and careful measurements yield unexpected results that one’s hypotheses cannot explain. There is also the risk that the same or related results are suddenly published by another group. These events are often regarded as failures in a research environment, but are they really failures? Could they actually hold the key to success in science?

There is scope to redefine what failure and success mean in science, and there are signs that the recipe for having a successful research career is changing. Being ‘scooped’ by a ‘competitor’ actually provides confirmation for your results, so shouldn’t that be viewed as support for the validity of your findings? Disseminating results fast in all of their forms, positive or negative – for example, as preprints – can also contribute significantly to the advancement of science; sharing all scholarly outputs allows others to build on the findings and prevents duplication of efforts.

Researchers are often constrained by a metric-based evaluation system that doesn’t reflect all the nuances, interactions and efforts that contribute to research endeavours. But some institutions and funders have started looking at their assessment framework afresh with a view to encouraging a more responsible use of metrics in the context of researcher assessment. At the same time, studies have consistently shown that there’s a lack of diversity in many scientific disciplines. In today’s landscape, where we have more options to travel and share information than ever before, we should move towards a place where diversity and collaboration are both sought and rewarded.

We will tackle all these questions and many more in the Cambridge Festival of Ideas event, “Failures: Key to success in science”. We’ll host an interactive discussion to engage the public and bring forward recommendations for the research communities on how we can better celebrate efforts and discoveries that do not currently fit the mould of a ‘successful’ research career. Our five panellists will help us explore the topic from their different perspectives:

Stephen Eglen, a reader in Computational Neuroscience (University of Cambridge)

Fiona Hutton, a publisher (Open access journals, Cambridge University Press)

Tapoka Mkandawire, a PhD candidate (Sanger Institute, Cambridge)

Arthur Smith, Acting Joint Deputy Head of Scholarly Communication (University of Cambridge)

Cathy Sorbara, Co-chair of CamAWiSE (Cambridge Association for Women in Science and Engineering)

If you’re in the Cambridge area, why not join us and participate in the debate, which will take place on Monday 15th October at Anglia Ruskin University, Lord Ashcroft Building Room 002. Book your free ticket here. Can’t attend? We’ll be live tweeting during the event. Check us out at #RethinkFailure. The Festival of Ideas hashtag is #cfi2018. We’ll also recap the entire day in a follow-up blog.

 

Live-streamed Preprint Journal Clubs!!!

Note: This post was written in collaboration with the PREreview team (Monica Granados, Samantha Hindle, Daniela Saderi)

We are teaming up with PREreview during Open Access week to bring together scientists from around the world to discuss and review an actual preprint…live-streamed!

PREreview helps scientists receive acknowledgement for their time spent reviewing others’ work. We are proud to collaborate with them to shine a spotlight on our shared goals: to encourage more scientists to post feedback on preprints, and to provide credit for their contributions to peer review. PREreview’s aim is to promote the discussion of preprints at journal clubs by providing resources and a platform where these discussions can be shared, and to ensure reviews are citable by assigning a digital object identifier (DOI) for each preprint review.

In the spirit of Open Access week, together we decided to leverage today’s technology to make these journal clubs more accessible to a diverse group of scientists by running them entirely online!

Want to participate? Read on for more details.

What is a preprint and how can it enhance your research?

Preprints are open access scientific manuscripts that have not yet been through editorial peer review. Because they are shared freely online while undergoing more formal peer review in a journal, they accelerate the communication of knowledge, thereby increasing the impact and reach of scientific discovery. Backed by many funders, journals, and institutions, preprints have become a legitimate part of research dissemination. To learn more about how preprints can help you and your science move forward, visit PLOS’ preprint resource page and ASAPbio.org.

One of the many advantages of preprinting is the potential for authors to receive immediate feedback from the rest of the scientific community and improve their article before formal publication in a journal. In a sense, it’s similar to the feedback one might receive after a talk or a poster presentation at a scientific meeting, except that it makes the process easier and more inclusive because anyone with internet connection around the world could comment on your work.

Here’s the plan – Join us and become part of the discussion!

WHAT

We will facilitate three interactive preprint journal club events that will be live-streamed via videoconference in which anyone can participate remotely. The focus will be on neuroscience, bioinformatics and ecology. Each online journal club will be hosted by two facilitators with experience in mediating video calls, as well as subject matter experts. They will guide participants through a constructive discussion of the preprint and collate feedback into a review report. These PREreviews will receive a DOI and will be shared online with the community as citable and discoverable objects. For more information about the format of PREreview online preprint journal clubs, check out PREreview’s information doc or email contact@prereview.org.

WHO

You! We encourage all interested researchers to be part of the discussion and offer their expertise. Of course, anyone who wants to see the power of preprints in action is also welcome. All you need is an internet connection or phone-in capabilities to join.

WHEN

Neuroscience: Monday, October 22, 9am PDT / 12pm EDT / 5pm GMT+1

Joining as a subject matter expert: Dr. Tim Mosca, Jefferson University

Bioinformatics: Tuesday, October 23, 9am PDT / 12pm EDT / 5pm GMT+1

Joining as a subject matter expert:   Dr. Shannon McWeeney and Dr. Ted Laderas,

Oregon Health and Science University

Ecology: Wednesday, October 24, 9am PDT / 12pm EDT / 5pm GMT+1

Joining as a subject matter expert:  Dr.Timothée Poisot,

Université de Montréal

HOW: REGISTER NOW to join us and invite others to come along. You can choose to join any (or all) of the subject areas listed above, and we will follow up with call-in details and specifics about the preprint that will be discussed closer to the event. Not sure if you can join yet? Sign up anyway to receive updates on the events and decide later.

WHERE: The video conference software Zoom, which is free to download. Please register and we will send you the information on how to join the calls.

Get ready to spend one hour with your fellow colleagues diving straight into the preprint and resurfacing with constructive feedback for the authors. This is a great opportunity to share your expertise with your peers from all over the world, learn about preprints, build your network, and get credit for your feedback.

Power to the Preprint: An Update

Earlier this year, we partnered with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to provide authors the opportunity to post their manuscripts as a preprint on bioRxiv through our submission system. In July, we started to implement a new feature linking PLOS articles to their matching bioRxiv preprint—regardless of whether they were submitted through the PLOS integration. This means any article published in a PLOS journal will be linked to its bioRxiv preprint, if posted, and adds on to the existing links from bioRxiv preprints to their journal publications.

What’s the benefit? For starters, it ensures that the early impact of the preprint is visible alongside the publication and enables the reader to learn the paper’s history. Forming these links shows more of the vital history of a research work, with a public life that started as a preprint, was shared online, and continued through peer review to journal publication. By linking papers with their preprints, we hope to make an important part of the paper’s life cycle accessible to our readers.

We actively support preprints as a vital part of the scientific literature. Preprints enable authors to get results out early, gain feedback on their manuscript from a wider community, accrue citations and time stamp their work. Preprints are indexed in Crossref and Google Scholar so they form a documented part of the ‘research story’ for the journal publications that may follow them. In the future we’ll work toward forming links with more preprint servers to ensure this feature is utilized across servers and scientific disciplines.

Our preprint service is free of charge and automated. All you have to do is opt-in when submitting your paper. The feature includes creation of a Preprint PDF from the author’s submission files (optional), screening checks and a seamless deposit to bioRxiv to make this process as easy as possible. Authors can focus on their journal submission, knowing their results will soon be available online as they work through the review process.

Note: PLOS Medicine continues to permit authors to post preprints of their research, but given the particular issues related to research in human health, does not currently offer transfer of submitted manuscripts to bioRxiv.

Opening up to new perspectives: an interview with Aileen Fyfe

Peer Review Week 2018 is all about diversity. To look at the changing scholarly landscape, we interviewed science publishing historian, Aileen Fyfe, who draws on her experience working in the archives of the Royal Society to explain how diversifying the pool of experts involved in the peer review process can further advance the scientific record.  

How diverse is the peer review process at the moment?

Until more people start publishing their data on both their community of authors and reviewers it’s difficult to tell. There’s certainly concerns about the geopolitical balance, whether the global north is doing much more of the refereeing, whereas the global south is doing a lot of authoring, and not so much refereeing. So that’s a large scale problem. There are certainly suspicions about women’s involvements, whether women are underrepresented as reviewers and editorial board members. The stats that we have so far do suggest that that’s true. But we still don’t know very much about other forms of diversity.

One of the points that I’d like to make about diversity in peer review is that there is always going to be some limit on how diverse peer review can be, because peer review by its nature doesn’t let just anyone do it. So we select as peer reviewers people who have got some form of shared expertise, some certain standards of training and education, and some form of research credentials, which nowadays generally means having published a couple of papers. So, there’s already a limit on exactly how diverse the pool can be, there are going to be some people who are not going to be invited to do this. And for peer review to work we wouldn’t want to lose that. But the interesting question becomes, within those limits, within the pool of people who have the appropriate level of education and professional research training are there any other reasons why diversity should be restricted. Nowadays we would probably say no to that, we wouldn’t think that religion or gender, geographical location or socioeconomic status should have anything to do with it. But those things have all often historically been tied up.

Over the years we’ve extended our understanding of who can be involved in peer review, but we don’t want to lose the sense of recognising what good science looks like. But, on the other other hand, there is room for a lot within that.

What happens when the peer review process isn’t diverse?

An immediate worry is that the process wouldn’t be fair if, for instance, decisions about global science were routinely being made by a handful of elite researchers in a handful of elite institutions. And we know that everyone carries implicit biases against people who are not like them—which is a particular worry in those fields of research that currently use single blind review systems.

But, you’ve also got the worry that with any group of similar minded people who share an understanding of what good science looks like, you’ve got a tendency to commit towards intellectual conservatism. Will they recognise the innovation, the speculative approach that turns out to be really fruitful? Because if you’re looking for stuff that is familiar and solid and rigorous and good, maybe you’ll miss something that’s exciting and novel, so there’s also that kind of aspect of diversity.

This intellectual diversity is slightly different from the social economic, gender, class, ethnicity that we talk about today. And nowadays we try to separate those things, and reckon hopefully we can have intellectual diversity and also have diversity of types of people.

We want to try and ensure that the people doing the editorial and reviewing work, aren’t being too prone to groupthink if you will, that they won’t be dismissing new approaches, new ideas, because they don’t look like the ones that they are familiar with, so there’s a worry that the scientific content could suffer if all the people doing the reviewing all comes from the same institution or from the same sub-field of a discipline.

What can we do to support diversity in the peer review process and scientific discourse in general?

One of the things that does seem to work is talking about it! When I look at the change in statistics for the Royal Society’s journals over the last 30 years, it’s quite clear that something has happened…, in terms of who is writing for the Royal Society and reviewing for the Royal Society, that has changed a lot since the 1980s early 1990s and I think it’s changed much more recently than that, and you have to ask why. And the only reason that I can see is that that organisation has started talking a lot about diversity, it has started gathering the statistics, and it’s started wondering what it can do better. And it looks as if that works. In terms of the number of editors, this is still rather male only, but the editorial boards, the publicly visible aspect, is getting better; and diversity among reviewers themselves is also getting better, it’s now similar to the number of authors in terms of gender. The proportion of women who are reviewers is similar to the proportion of women who are authors, which seems like a reasonable place to be.

So, talking about it, asking questions, getting people to publish their stats.  

I think that that raising awareness thing, which is becoming more common, does seem to be focusing people’s minds, even if it’s just focusing editors’ minds… on who are they going to choose. And that’s the first step towards making some sort of progress, so they don’t automatically go to whatever the equivalent of an old boys club is right now…. And this could be your institutional network, the people you know and went to graduate school with, it could be that kind of group, and ideally you want something more diverse than that. And if you got the editors thinking about that, then that’s got to be a good first step.  

About Aileen Fyfe

Aileen is a professor of history at the University of St. Andrews where she researches the history of scholarly communications. She currently leads a research project based at the Royal Society investigating the history of the world’s oldest scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions.

 

Featured image: Figure 1, PONE 0197280

 

It’s Peer Review Week!!!

Peer Review Week is a global event celebrating the essential role that peer review plays in how we evaluate and communicate most scholarly research. Our aim is to spark discussion and collaboration between researchers and publishers who want to improve scholarly communication. For that, there’s no better jumping off point than this year’s topic: diversity.

How diverse is it? The scholarly landscape

While the demand for STEM degrees is on the rise around the world, we still see a relatively small percentage of published papers out of countries in Africa and Latin America. Even more troubling, are the increasingly common stories of unsafe working conditions, lack of resources, and perceptual biases keeping women out of many higher academic fields.

A study published by eLife found the percentage of female authors, reviewers, and editors in STEM publishing falls far below 50% and predicts these percentages, 37%, 28% and 26% respectively, would not achieve parity with male counterparts until 2042 if currents trends of growth continue. In some fields, the difference in representation is even more staggering. For example, a review of 435 Mathematical journals published in PLOS ONE found the median number of editorships held by women to be only 7.6%. Fifty-one journals had no women on their editorial boards at all.

According to the eLife study, both women and men show an inclination to appoint reviewers of the same gender, limiting possibilities for women on a journal with an editorial board comprised of mostly men and perpetuating the imbalance of representation. Another study in PLOS ONE found similar results, as well as evidence of preference for other shared background characteristics such as country or institution.

If a journal’s peer review process is only as diverse as the network of editors who oversee it, we must diversify our editorial boards.

The role of publishers

Publishers, as stewards for scientific research, have a responsibility to raise all voices of the community. To do that, we must offer the tools and opportunities for researchers from all backgrounds to participate in the scholarly discussion.

The first thing we can do is to actively seek an even mix of expertise, affiliation, nationality, and gender to represent the editorial board and journal staff. We also need to start stepping outside our comfort zones, ask ourselves whether our tried and true models really work for everyone or if they have hidden barriers for certain groups. Some great advice for publishers and organizations is available here and here.

Starting the conversation

Peer review and how to make it better is the focus of many organizations that just last month penned an Open Letter to the community regarding transparent peer review. Through posted and signed reviews, we’re taking steps to further our understanding of peer review and to open up opportunities for critical conversations about peer review best practices.

Later this week, we’ll be posting an interview with Aileen Fyfe, science publishing historian, who will talk about the importance of unique voices to advance scientific literature.  The EveryONE blog also has an additional perspective, as well as a collection of papers on gender inequality in peer review.

In the meantime, we invite you to raise your own voice and share your experiences with the hashtags #PeerReviewWeek18 and #PeerRevDiversityInclusion.

Open Access Publishing Forges Ahead in Europe

A group of national funders, joined by the European Commission and the European Research Council, have announced plans to make Open Access publishing mandatory for recipients of their agencies’ research funding. Marc Schitlz, the President of Science Europe, has authored an article that outlines the path forward for their agencies. PLOS shares in the coalition’s dedication to disseminate scholarly work as rapidly and widely as possible. Because of its potential for impact on our communities, we’ve posted below an advance version of an article that will soon publish simultaneously in PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, and Frontiers in Neuroscience.

_______________________________________________________________________

Science Without Publication Paywalls: cOAlition S for the Realisation of Full and Immediate Open Access

Marc Schiltz1*

1 President, Science Europe, Brussels, Belgium

* Marc.Schiltz@fnr.lu

In this Perspective, a group of national funders, joined by the European Commission and the European Research Council, announce plans to make Open Access publishing mandatory for recipients of their agencies’ research funding.

Open Access is Foundational to the Scientific Enterprise

Universality is a fundamental principle of science (the term ‘science’ as used here includes the humanities): only results that can be discussed, challenged, and, where appropriate, tested and reproduced by others qualify as scientific. Science, as an institution of organised criticism, can therefore only function properly if research results are made openly available to the community so that they can be submitted to the test and scrutiny of other researchers. Furthermore, new research builds on established results from previous research. The chain, whereby new scientific discoveries are built on previously established results, can only work optimally if all research results are made openly available to the scientific community.

Publication paywalls are withholding a substantial amount of research results from a large fraction of the scientific community and from society as a whole. This constitutes an absolute anomaly, which hinders the scientific enterprise in its very foundations and hampers its uptake by society. Monetising the access to new and existing research results is profoundly at odds with the ethos of science [1]. There is no longer any justification for this state of affairs to prevail and the subscription-based model of scientific publishing, including its so-called ‘hybrid’ variants, should therefore be terminated. In the 21st century, science publishers should provide a service to help researchers disseminate their results. They may be paid fair value for the services they are providing, but no science should be locked behind paywalls!

A Decisive Step Towards the Realisation of Full Open Access Needs to be Taken Now

Researchers and research funders have a collective duty of care for the science system as a whole. The 2003 Berlin Declaration [2] was a strong manifestation of the science community (researchers and research funders united) to regain ownership of the rules governing the dissemination of scientific information. Science Europe established principles for the transition to Open Access in 2013 [3] but wider overall progress has been slow. In 2016, the EU Ministers of science and innovation, assembled in the Competitiveness Council, resolved that all European scientific publications should be immediately accessible by 2020.

As major public funders of research in Europe, we have a duty of care for the good functioning of the science system (of which we are part), as well as a fiduciary responsibility for the proper usage of the public funds that we are entrusted with. As university and library negotiation teams in several countries (e.g. Germany, France, Sweden) [4,5] are struggling to reach agreements with large publishing houses, we feel that a decisive move towards the realisation of Open Access and the complete elimination of publication paywalls in science should be taken now. The appointment of the Open Access Envoy by the European Commission has accelerated this process.

Hence, driven by our duty of care for the proper functioning of the science system, we have developed Plan S whereby research funders will mandate that access to research publications that are generated through research grants that they allocate, must be fully and immediately open and cannot be monetised in any way (Box 1).

 

Box 1. Plan S. Accelerating the transition to full and immediate Open Access to scientific publications.

 

The key principle is as follows:

 

“After 1 January 2020 scientific publications on the results from research funded by public grants provided by national and European research councils and funding bodies, must be published in compliant Open Access Journals or on compliant Open Access Platforms.”

 

In addition:

–                Authors retain copyright of their publication with no restrictions. All publications must be published under an open license, preferably the Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC BY. In all cases, the license applied should fulfil the requirements defined by the Berlin declaration;

–                The Funders will ensure jointly the establishment of robust criteria and requirements for the services that compliant high quality Open Access journals and Open Access platforms must provide;

–                In case such high quality Open Access journals or platforms do not yet exist, the Funders will in a coordinated way provide incentives to establish these and support them when appropriate; support will also be provided for Open Access infrastructures where necessary;

–                Where applicable, Open Access publication fees are covered by Funders or universities, not by individual researchers; it is acknowledged that all scientists should be able to publish their work Open Access even if their institutions have limited means;

–                When Open Access publication fees are applied, their funding is standardised and capped (across Europe);

–                Funders will ask universities, research organisations, and libraries to align their policies and strategies, notably to ensure transparency;

–                The above principles shall apply to all types of scholarly publications, but it is understood that the timeline to achieve Open Access for monographs and books may be longer than 1 January 2020;

–                The importance of open archives and repositories for hosting research outputs is acknowledged because of their long-term archiving function and their potential for editorial innovation;

–                The ‘hybrid’ model of publishing is not compliant with the above principles;

–                The Funders will monitor compliance and will sanction non-compliance.

Further Considerations

We recognise that researchers need to be given a maximum of freedom to choose the proper venue for publishing their results and that in some jurisdictions this freedom may be covered by a legal or constitutional protection. However, our collective duty of care is for the science system as a whole, and researchers must realise that they are doing a gross disservice to the institution of science if they continue to report their outcomes in publications that will be locked behind paywalls.

We also understand that researchers may be driven to do so by a misdirected reward system which puts emphasis on the wrong indicators (e.g. journal impact factor). We therefore commit to fundamentally revise the incentive and reward system of science, using the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) [6] as a starting point.

The subscription-based model of scientific publishing emerged at a certain point in the history of science, when research papers needed extensive typesetting, layout design, printing, and when hardcopies of journals needed to be distributed throughout the world. While moving from print to digital, the publishing process still needs services, but the distribution channels have been completely transformed. There is no valid reason to maintain any kind of subscription-based business model for scientific publishing in the digital world, where Open Access dissemination is maximising the impact, visibility, and efficiency of the whole research process. Publishers should provide services that help scientists to review, edit, disseminate, and interlink their work and they may charge fair value for these services in a transparent way. The minimal standards for services expected from publishers are laid down on page 6 of the 2015 ‘Science Europe Principles on Open Access Publisher Services’ [3].

Obviously, our call for immediate Open Access is not compatible with any type of embargo period.

We acknowledge that ‘transformative’ type of agreements, where subscription fees are offset against publication fees, may contribute to accelerate the transition to full Open Access. Therefore, it is acceptable that, during a transition period that should be as short as possible, individual funders may continue to tolerate publications in ‘hybrid’ journals that are covered by such a ‘transformative’ type of agreement. There should be complete transparency in such agreements and their terms and conditions should be fully and publicly disclosed.

We are aware that there may be attempts to misuse the Open Access model of publishing by publishers that provide poor or non-existent editorial services (e.g. the so-called ‘predatory’ publishers). We will therefore support initiatives that establish robust quality criteria for Open Access publishing, such as the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) (https://doaj.org) and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) (https://www.doabooks.org).

We note that for monographs and books the transition to Open Access may be longer than 1 January 2020, but as short as possible and respecting the targets already set by the individual research funders.

cOAlition S: Building an Alliance of Funders and Stakeholders

Plan S states the fundamental principles for future Open Access publishing. Science Europe, funders, the European Research Council and the European Commission will work together to clarify and publish implementation details. The plan does not advocate any particular Open Access business model, although it is clear that some of the current models are not compliant. We therefore invite publishers to switch to publication models that comply with these principles.

Plan S was initiated by the Open Access Envoy of the European Commission and further developed by the President of Science Europe and by a group of Heads of national funding organisations. It also drew on substantial input from the Scientific Council of the European Research Council.

Today, a group of national funders initiate the alliance cOAlition S (http://scieur.org/coalition-s) to take action towards the implementation of Plan S, and are joined by the European Commission and the European Research Council.

We invite other funding agencies and research councils, as well as stakeholders (notably researchers, universities, libraries, and publishers) to join cOAlition S and thereby contribute to the swift realisation of our vision of science without publication paywalls.

 

References

  1. Merton RK. The Normative Structure of Science. In: Merton RK. The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 1973.
  2. Max Planck Society. Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. 22 Oct 2003. Available from: https://openaccess.mpg.de/Berlin-Declaration. Cited 29 Aug 2018.
  3. Science Europe. Science Europe Principles on Open Access to Research Publications. Apr 2013 (updated May 2015). Available from: http://scieur.org/opennew. Cited 29 Aug 2018.
  4. Kwon D. Universities in Germany and Sweden Lose Access to Elsevier Journals. The Scientist. 19 Jul 2018. Available from: https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/universities-in-germany-and-sweden-lose-access-to-elsevier-journals–64522. Cited 31 Aug 2018.
  5. Kwon D. French Universities Cancel Subscriptions to Springer Journals. The Scientist. 31 Mar 2018. Available from: https://www.the-scientist.com/daily-news/french-universities-cancel-subscriptions-to-springer-journals-29882. Cited 31 Aug 2018.
  6. San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). DORA Roadmap: A two-year strategic plan for advancing global research assessment reform at the institutional, national, and funder level. 27 Jun 2018. Available from: https://sfdora.org/2018/06/27/dora-roadmap-a-two-year-strategic-plan-for-advancing-global-research-assessment-reform-at-the-institutional-national-and-funder-level/. Cited 29 Aug 2018.

 

 

Transparency, credit, and peer review

 

Yesterday I signed an open letter on behalf of all PLOS journals, alongside 20 other editors representing over 100 publications, to commit to offering transparent peer review options.

Support for publication of reviewer reports has been mounting as part of a greater effort to inform the discussion on peer review practice. Our joint commitment to transparent peer review comes on the heels of a meeting we attended earlier this year organized by HHMI, The Wellcome Trust and ASAPbio. Funders, editors, and publishers came together and agreed that elevating the visibility of peer review is paramount for informed scholarly discussion and early career development. Context for the initiatives is provided today in a Nature commentary.

We are excited to be working alongside so many other journals eager to bring posted reviews to our communities and to help change the way in which we talk about and understand peer review.

How it works

Our approach is to let authors and reviewers decide what level of transparency is right for them on a case by case basis. Authors will choose whether to make the peer review history public at the end of the assessment process for their manuscript. Reviewers will decide whether to reveal their identities or remain anonymous. We encourage authors and reviewers to experiment with the new options.

What’s in it for researchers?

Transparent peer review is a critical first step towards elevating peer review reports as recognized scholarly outputs.

We plan to post peer reviews with a DOI so that it can be cited in the contributor’s CV or referenced as the foundation for further discussion of the work. This is especially critical for early career researchers to be able to demonstrate their varied contributions to their field.

We hope that deeper insight into peer review will strengthen understanding of the scientific record and help future generations of researchers learn about the assessment process.

Ready for change

Before making our decision, we asked our communities what they thought of transparent peer review and surveyed the feedback from other journals that have already implemented or experimented with different forms of transparent review.

In a 2017 survey of our reviewers, 87% of participants said they would be fine with posted reviews. Of the remaining 13%, many indicated that they felt this decision should be left up to the authors, a concern that we’ve taken into account by allowing authors to decide whether they want to publish their peer reviews or not (according to another survey, 45% of them do).

Other journals who offer to post anonymous reviews, including Nature Communications, eLife, and The EMBO Journal, saw little to no difference in reviewer participation rates after implementing similar policies.

We’ll share what we learn

While transparent peer review isn’t a new concept, it hasn’t yet been widely adopted. With over 23,000 research articles published each year in the PLOS family of journals, there is an opportunity for us to affect meaningful change in the way scholarly communities in all disciplines learn about and understand peer review.

We are excited to offer transparent peer review to our contributors. As we move forward, we’ll be analyzing our processes, gathering data, and listening to feedback from our contributors in order to report back to the community.

 

PLOS Update

In 2009, we launched PLOS Currents as an experimental platform for rapid communication of non-standard publications. A few communities embraced the experiment enthusiastically from the start, and the contributions of researchers who volunteered as editors and reviewers was fantastic. Over the years, we have seen important applications, for example, in small communities collaborating on rare diseases research in PLOS Currents Huntington Disease, and in rapid communication of preliminary results in the context of disease outbreaks in PLOS Currents Outbreaks. In particular, there was a surge of submissions during the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the 2015-2016 Zika virus outbreak.

However, in recent years the technology supporting this platform has aged rapidly, the user experience has been subpar, and submissions have substantially decreased. We have undertaken a thorough review to understand these concerns, and to evaluate whether PLOS Currents was still meeting our original aims – and the needs of its communities. Our conclusion: it does not. Much has changed in the years since Currents’ launch and we think there are now better ways of serving the original aims. We have therefore made the difficult announcement to cease its publication.

From today, PLOS Currents will no longer accept new submissions. Authors who currently have a submission under review have been contacted with details on their options going forward. All PLOS Currents content will remain available, citable, indexed in PubMed and permanently archived on the PLOS Currents site and publicly archived in PubMed Central.

In assessing how PLOS Currents measured against its original vision we learned three major lessons and a new path forward:

  1. Despite the flexibility of the format and invitations to submit wide-ranging research (e.g., negative results, single experiments, research in progress, protocols, datasets, etc.), the majority of submissions to PLOS Currents were traditional research articles
  2. The platform which underlies PLOS Currents has not evolved as rapidly with the needs of the community it was meant to serve.
  3. A common thread has been the desire to publish rapidly, which was particularly obvious in the case of PLOS Currents Disasters and PLOS Currents Outbreaks. However, since PLOS Currents was launched new publishing tools have emerged that can facilitate the rapid sharing of work.

We have partnered with like-minded organizations to provide more adapted and specialized solutions. Today we offer the option for rapid dissemination across all of our journals through our recent partnership with the preprint server bioRxiv.  We have also partner with other platforms that specialize in specific content types such as protocols.io, an open access repository for laboratory protocols, with customized features for protocols publication, execution, adaptation, and discussion. Through a series of preferred repositories that host specialist dataset and our close collaboration with Dryad and figshare, PLOS champions the sharing of data sets according to the FAIR principles.

We continue to seek partnerships to facilitate the dissemination of research outputs that do not conform to the traditional research article mold. Meanwhile, PLOS ONE has reinforced its commitment to continue to publish negative results and replication and confirmation studies.

To bring together all these features, we have built PLOS Channels, which integrate content from all PLOS titles, the wider literature, preprint servers, blogs, and the other content platforms types described above. Channel Editors curate this content to create a highly-valuable community resource, developed and maintained by communities for communities. By extending beyond a single title or platform for original content, we believe that Channels are well suited to build on the initial objectives of PLOS Currents.

For example, last year, we launched a Disease Forecasting & Surveillance Channel to which one of the Editors of PLOS Currents Outbreaks and a member of our Currents review board already contribute. In May, as the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo worsened, we rapidly launched an Ebola Channel to serve responders. When the WHO announced the end of the outbreak, we paused activity on the Channel but stand ready to activate it, or another channel, as researchers and clinicians mobilize to fight outbreaks as they occur. These are only two examples of the potential we see for Channels to support specific communities.

The initial objectives of PLOS Currents remain vibrantly alive at PLOS and we are enormously grateful to all the PLOS Currents Editors and Reviewers, past and present, who have made this experiment possible. We will continue to work with these communities to find new ways to facilitate communication of research that fit their specific needs.

Aperta Source Code is Now Available

We’re happy to announce that the source code for the Aperta submission system can now be found on GitHub. Aperta has been developed using reliable and modern technologies and the shared code provides an opportunity for both the research communication and open source communities to build on and enhance it.

Moving forward, you will continue to see our commitment to the principles of openness and transparency in our publishing strategies, innovations, policies and partnerships.  In short, we want to help foster an environment conducive to responsible Open Science and be part of the collective effort to propel it into new and exciting territory.

Aperta is a Linux and Mac supported platform for managing the submission and review of research outputs. More information about the system and its capabilities can be found on the APERTA-wiki. Questions about Aperta can be logged in the issue tracker.

PLOS ONE and Children’s Tumor Foundation partnership announce second cycle of DDIRR Awards

The Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF), the largest non-governmental funder of neurofibromatosis (NF) research, and PLOS ONE, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal, are pleased to announce the successful completion of the first funding cycle of the Drug Discovery Initiative Registered Report (DDIRR) 2017 Awards, a funder-publisher partnership integrating the Registered Reports model into the grant application process.

Registered Reports pre-determine the research questions, methodology and design of a study to be carried out, and are designed to enhance the rigor, reproducibility and transparency of the science produced. CTF and PLOS ONE partnered together to review the 2017 DDIRR applications and granted three awards: Dr. Andrea McClatchey of Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Lei Xu of Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dr. Aaron Schindeler from the University of Sydney. The researchers also obtained an in-principle acceptance (IPA) to publication in the journal PLOS ONE. Provided the study is conducted according to plan, acceptance in principle is honored regardless of study outcome – thereby eliminating publication bias and maximizing the transparency of the funded work.

The reports are being placed on the Open Science Framework registered report portal (https://osf.io/rr/), where authors will have the opportunity to make public or embargo their reports until publication of results. The awards have a duration of 12 months and will conclude in May 2019. As soon as results are added to the registered report, PLOS ONE will review compliance with the proposed protocol and publish their results, even if they are negative. By securing publication before they start their research, applicants can eliminate the bias of a result-based approach. The process was designed to maintain independence of funding and publishing decisions, while at the same time optimizing processes, thereby avoiding duplication and preventing research waste.

This new award constitutes an evolution of the Drug Discovery Initiative (DDI) Awards that CTF had introduced in 2006 as a funding program for promising ideas that could lead to larger studies or move drugs into the clinic. Feedback on the new DDIRR program from both applicants and reviewers has been unanimously positive, and the Foundation together with PLOS ONE editors have also announced a new cycle for DDIRR in 2018-2019. The Foundation will invite applicants to submit their proposals starting on September 24, 2018, with the anticipated assignment of new awards in the first quarter of 2019.

“The overall outcome of this first round of DDIRR has been very positive. Reviewers have focused their attention to protocols and study designs, allowing researchers to have their statistics ready for publication,” said Salvatore La Rosa, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. “As this particular grant program focuses on hypothesis-testing research, the quality and rigor of the applications are critical to soundly move proof-of-concept experiments from the lab into the clinic. This new program increases our ability to do that.”

“We are delighted to continue our collaboration with CTF on the Registered Reports model for the DDI Awards. We hope this can serve as a model for other funders. The Registered Reports provide researchers with peer reviewed study designs and an in-principle acceptance of the completed study at PLOS ONE. The deposited reports at the Open Science Framework portal ensure full transparency of the research project – a win for everyone involved,” adds Joerg Heber, Editor-in-Chief of PLOS ONE.

Source: First Funding Cycle of the Drug Discovery Initiative Registered Report (DDIRR) Awards Announced.

PLOS Responds to Ebola Outbreak with New Channel & Expedited Peer Review

Early sharing and expedited peer review of relevant research

In response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are creating a PLOS Channel for Ebola Research.  The Channel will make it easy for researchers to keep up with developments and important research related to the outbreak. We will work with authors and our editorial boards to provide rapid review and facilitate the responsible dissemination of preprints. We believe these responses are urgently needed during serious and rapidly developing threats to public health.

All relevant articles published across PLOS will be included in the Ebola Channel, alongside major contributions curated from the broader literature. You can also send any questions or content recommendations to ebola@plos.org or tweet us @PLOSChannels using the hashtag #PLOSEbola.

How do I make my Ebola research available quickly?

We’ve created a taskforce to identify editors and reviewers, and to manage an expedited review process across all our journals and platforms.  For authors, we recommend the following:

  • If you want to share a single observation (no more than 1 figure or table with commentary) submit to PLOS Currents: Outbreaks
  • Submit any other research to one of the 7 PLOS journals; all Ebola-related submissions will be prioritized. (Note that fee waiver assistance is available as needed)
  • Share your data and manuscript ahead of submission: large datasets should be deposited in a relevant repository, and manuscripts submitted to a preprint server. Include the DOIs or accession numbers for datasets and preprint in your submission.

In addition to expediting research publications, PLOS believes all data on the Ebola outbreak should be shared as rapidly and openly as possible. We endorse the Wellcome Trust’s statement demanding availability of data and research on Ebola. Editorial consideration of research submissions to PLOS journals will not be prejudiced by the early sharing of data or preprints.

Lessons learned: delivering rapid responses to emergency outbreaks

PLOS saw surges in submissions in previous outbreaks, notably the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and the Zika outbreak of 2015/2016. In each emergency, we provided resources to serve the community. In addition, concerns about data sharing during the 2014 Ebola outbreak led PLOS and other journal editors to issue a joint statement encouraging early data sharing. A recent report in PLOS Medicine showed that, while increased use of preprints in the 2016 Zika outbreak accelerated the dissemination of research results, the proportion of published articles on Zika that were preceded by preprints remained low.

Our shared responsibility in public health emergencies

We believe research, healthcare, and publishing communities have a responsibility to work together to respond rapidly to public health emergencies. PLOS is committed to disseminating new research findings as efficiently and effectively as possible. We appreciate the opportunity to facilitate access to your work.

 

PLOS Announces Prize to Celebrate the First Year of Channels

One year ago, PLOS launched its Channels program, providing central hubs for specific research communities. Channels are resources for scientists, making it easy to keep up to date with developments in a particular area of study and offering a way for exceptional research to be recognized and highlighted. All Channel content is curated by our expert Channel Editors, who are active leaders in their fields of research.

Our first Channel, launched a year ago, was the Veterans Disability & Rehabilitation Research Channel, soon followed by Channels for Tuberculosis, Cholera, Disease Forecasting & Surveillance, Responding to Climate Change and the Open Source Toolkit. To celebrate the first year of these Channels, we are awarding a prize of $500 to the authors of the best PLOS research featured in our first three Channels (Veterans Disability & Rehabilitation Research, Tuberculosis and Open Source Toolkit), with the winners chosen via a public vote. The polls will soon be available on Twitter and we’ll share more information about the competition on the PLOS Channels and Collections blog in the next few days.

Interested in getting your paper featured in a Channel? Authors are encouraged to suggest their papers for inclusion in a relevant Channel – simply contact us at channels@plos.org (email) or @PLOSChannels (Twitter) to let us know about your work, and Channel Editors will consider it for the next update. PLOS authors can also suggest a target Channel when submitting their manuscript, via the cover letter or the submission form.

PLOS believes that bringing communities together means research is shared more freely, and discoveries can be accelerated. If you’d like to discuss working with PLOS on a Channel for your community, email channels@plos.org – we’d love to hear your ideas.

Power to the Preprint

Preprints are here!!! Starting today authors submitting their manuscript to most PLOS journals* can also choose to post their article on bioRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s preprint server for the life sciences. This is an important development for both PLOS, for bioRxiv, for the authors we serve, and for the life sciences. For PLOS, it enables us to achieve a long-standing aspect of our vision to make research more quickly available to enable discovery and reuse.  For bioRxiv, this development will augment the server’s already rapidly climbing manuscript submission rate. And authors will gain the opportunity of sharing their work before peer review on a trusted platform.

“Collaborating with bioRxiv is part of a much bigger strategy for PLOS moving forward, one in which we’ll renew our roots of being a catalytic open publisher” said Alison Mudditt, CEO of PLOS. “To accelerate innovation, we’ll often act in partnership with others in the community, which will move us closer to our vision of how scientific communication should work.”

“We warmly welcome the further integration of PLOS journals with bioRxiv,” said John Inglis, co-founder of bioRxiv. “The server’s goal is the acceleration of research and providing unrestricted access to manuscripts before they enter an often lengthy process of peer review is one of several ways bioRxiv is delivering on its promise.”

So what are preprints exactly?

A preprint is an openly available scientific manuscript that an author uploads to a public server like bioRxiv prior to peer review. The preprint contains data and methodologies and is typically the same manuscript that is submitted to a journal.

Why are preprints important?

Well, for starters, early sharing of ideas can lead to new discoveries and collaboration, and early feedback can help improve your manuscript. We are committed to putting your science first. By allowing a submission to be posted on bioRxiv, authors accelerate the dissemination of their work and invite commentary by a broader community, which PLOS editors may evaluate as part of peer review.

How will it work? This graphic is a visual representation:

In short, PLOS will perform initial manuscript screening compatible with bioRxiv standards, covering appropriate scope and article type, plagiarism detection, and other basic ethical and technical criteria. Articles will then post to the bioRxiv server and be freely accessible online. Authors must choose to opt-in to this preprint process when they submit papers to PLOS.

When sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter please use the hashtag #powertothepreprint to help increase visibility and awareness for preprints. Publish with PLOS and post your preprint on bioRxiv and let’s keep science open, and accessible, together.

*PLOS Medicine continues to permit authors to post preprints of their research, but given particular issues related to research in human health, will not initially be offering transfer of submitted manuscripts to bioRxiv.  PLOS Biology also continues to encourage authors to post preprints and will enable this automated preprint posting service to submitting authors in a few months.

Joint Publisher Statement

PLOS, together with the Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Cell families of journals issued a joint statement that addresses a recently proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

PLOS has always been a strong proponent of sharing data to improve the transparency of scientific research, but we recognize that some datasets cannot be made publicly available for ethical reasons. The EPA proposed rule is presented as informed by the journals’ policies. However, insisting on public availability of data would allow the EPA to exclude relevant data simply because it cannot be made publicly available. We believe this could prevent the use of relevant scientific evidence in the regulatory process.

You can read the joint statement here.

Citation

J. Berg, P. Campbell, V. Kiermer, N. Raikhel, D. Sweet, Science. 10.1126/science.aau0116 (2018).

Making a home for the Physical Sciences and Engineering in PLOS ONE

Calling all physicists, chemists, earth scientists, computer scientists and engineers: help PLOS ONE make science more open, more reproducible and more transparent.

PLOS ONE is known for its multi- and interdisciplinary approach. The journal is open for papers in all areas of science. From particle physics to pulmonology, we particularly welcome papers that break down barriers between disciplines. Historically speaking, however, most of our initiatives and publications have focused on biomedical topics. Given that all of PLOS’ founders came from biomedical fields, this focus arose organically.

But PLOS ONE’s approach to consider all rigorous research irrespective of impact and PLOS’ commitment to driving innovations in Open Science and Open Access in a non-profit framework have always attracted a diverse group of researchers and disciplines. Indeed, communities in physics, chemistry, earth sciences, computer sciences and engineering have adopted PLOS ONE as an outlet of choice in the past. We have published influential papers on complex networks, 3D printing, polymer chemistry, climate change and machine learning, to name but a few topics.

To build on these strengths, PLOS ONE has created a  Physical Sciences and Engineering team as part of a wider effort to better serve our communities through subject-specific in-house editorial groups. The team is led by me, Division Editor Leonie Mueck (Physics, Computer Science, Engineering). I am proud to present the team working beside me:   

  • Associate Editor Victoria Black (Earth Sciences)
  • Associate Editor Helen Howard (Chemistry and Materials Science)

You can meet us at many 2018 conferences, including the ACS National Meeting, MACRO2018, Goldschmidt2018, the 2018 MRS Fall Meeting, the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting, and NetSci 2018.

Physical Sciences and Engineering is a vast remit and we are building an experienced editorial board in the different research fields, an editorial family which you are invited to join as an Academic Editor. PLOS ONE is a journal that is run by the community for the community, and we invite researchers in the field to join us in our efforts.

Together with some of these communities, we have already started working on various editorial projects:

There are more projects in Physical Sciences and Engineering in the pipeline, and we are committed to sharing our progress with you as we move forward. We want to hear from you, the researchers in these communities. Share your thoughts and help us shape physical sciences and engineering at PLOS ONE! Your perspectives will help shape future projects, topics for calls for papers and how to support you with Open Science initiatives. Please fill out this form if you want to share your ideas with us.

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