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PLoS ONE – a personal farewell

This is my last day as the Publisher of PLoS ONE, and I wanted to mark it with a brief blog post.

When I came to work on PLoS ONE (in March 2008), the journal was in its infancy, but was clearly going places.  At that time it was receiving about 280 submissions, and publishing about 170 articles, per month. The journal is now receiving over 3,100 submissions per month and in May it should exceed 2,000 publications for the first time ever. PLoS ONE now publishes more articles per month than all but about 20 journals worldwide publish in a year, and in 2012 it could publish almost 3% of the STM literature.

But although the publication volume of the journal has made it very visible, it is how it got there which is the truly interesting story. PLoS ONE was a radical concept when proposed by the PLoS Founders – a journal which would judge submissions only on scientific and methodological soundness, leaving any subjective determinations of impact, scope, or relevance to the post-publication phase. As a result, many commentators felt that it could become a dumping ground for otherwise unpublishable work, or would in some way be a vanity press. But this was never the case. In fact, PLoS ONE has applied exemplary standards to its publication practices; it has rigorously enforced global and local ethical standards; it has treated all authors with courtesy and respect; and it has peer reviewed all submitted content to the highest levels – collectively, these are things which have shown that the journal is serious about the ways in which it will evaluate and handle submitted articles. Today, more than 75% of authors who publish in PLoS ONE have selected the journal as their first or second choice publication venue, and the citation activity of published articles is incredibly high (for example, for those articles which are 12 months or older, 88% have 1 or more citations, and 66% have 3 or more). In addition, the journal has won two awards for Innovation from Industry and Community bodies.

Clearly this radical approach to the evaluation and publication of scientific results has been extremely well received. As a result it is my belief that PLoS ONE has caused (and will continue to cause) a seismic shift in the scholarly publication landscape. It represents a real force for positive change in the way in which academic articles are evaluated and distributed.

Therefore, it is with a sense of considerable sadness that today is my last day on the Journal – running PLoS ONE has been the high point of my career. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has worked on the journal over the years – without the efforts of the Academic Editors (who now number more than 3,000), the Peer Reviewers (who number almost 75,000) and the staff (located in both our offices, and in various partner organizations) PLoS ONE would not have been the success it is. The journal is, of course, in safe hands – we have a strong organization of experienced staff, and dedicated Academic Editors who, I know, will take the journal to new heights in the coming years.

Thank you,

Peter Binfield,

Publisher PLoS ONE


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