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PLoS ONE Review of 2009

It was on Dec 20th, 2006 that PLoS ONE launched, and 2009 (only our third full year of publication) has been packed full of exciting developments.  To note our birthday, I took the opportunity to round up the major events of the past 12 months. There have been an awful lot of them and it is a tribute to our staff and academic editors that we were able to achieve all of the following while increasing our publication volume from 2,726 articles published in 2008 to 4,400 expected in 2009 (something which, we believe, now makes us the third largest journal in the world, by publication volume).

The start of the year saw us developing new functionality, with the launch of Collections on PLoS ONE. This began with the publication of the ‘Stress-Induced Depression and Comorbidities’ Collection in January, followed by our second in February – the  PLoS ONE Paleontology Collection. We subsequently launched the Prokaryotic Genome Collection in June and the Structural Genomics Consortium Collection in October (a collection which provides ‘enhanced versions’ of papers, incorporating advanced 3D interactive simulation software – an excellent example of the creative re-use of Open Access content).

In March, we launched everyONE, our community blog site; we announced our ability to accept LaTeX submissions; and we upgraded our site with a redesigned ‘tabbed’ user interface to accommodate our newly launched Article-Level Metrics functionality (of which more later).

In April, we announced our ‘Blog Post of the Month Competition’ (in collaboration with which has since gone on to award a winner every month.

In May, we redesigned our email Table of Contents alerts so that recipients now receive an email categorized by subject area, and this was also the month in which we publicly thanked the 9,000 peer reviewers who gave us their expert opinions during 2008.

Our 2009 media coverage will be reviewed by Bex in a different post, but in May we published a paper that sparked our largest media story of the year – the Darwinius masillae (or ‘Ida’) paper – “Complete Primate Skeleton from the Middle Eocene of Messel in Germany: Morphology and Paleobiology”. The coverage of this paper was overviewed in three separate blog posts.  

May also saw a major event in the development of PLoS’s technology platform – with the migration of PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine, we were finally able to have all seven of our titles on Topaz, which is now our shared online platform.

In July, we began a partnership with DeepDyve to improve our search capabilities and we also launched the “Worth a Thousand Words” blog series (featuring a selected image from each week’s publications). July also saw PLoS publicly express our opinion that there is more value in measuring impact at the article level than at the journal level – something which coincided with the announcement that we would no longer be promoting Impact Factors on our sites.

In August, PLoS ONE was featured in the popular internet comic, “PhD Comics” as part of their “Nature vs Science” series, and in the same month PLoS launched an important experiment in rapid publication – PLoS Currents: Influenza, a collaboration between PLoS, Google Knol and the NCBI

In September, PLoS ONE was immensely proud to win the ALPSP Award for Publishing Innovation, 2009 – this is a major industry award and a testament to the rapid pace of innovation that the journal has pioneered in the 3 years since launch.

September was also the month that saw our Article-Level Metrics program expand in a significant way, by displaying usage data on every article in the PLoS corpus. In December, we also added data from to the program.  We regard Article-Level Metrics as a significant new development in academic publishing and we  expect to significantly expand it in 2010. Several presentations were made through the year on the topic of Article-level Metrics, for example to NISO, to the ElPub Conference, and to UCSF/Berkeley and these are all archived with audio if you wanted to delve into the details.

In October, OASPA, the new association for Open Access Scholarly Publishers was launched and PLoS was proud to be a founding member. This coincided with Open Access Week, 2009. And in November, in response to many requests over the years, we launched our new PLoS store.

And finally, after a year of incredible developments, 2009 has culminated with what may yet turn out to be the most significant development of all – the request by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) for public comments on the issue of broadening public access to publicly funded research. You still have time to provide your feedback and there would be no better New Year resolution than to make your voice heard in this forum.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in 2009, and over the last three years – in particular thank you to our (almost) 1,000 Academic Editors, all of our peer reviewers and of course, all of our authors. We look forward to publishing more great science in 2010!

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