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10 Years of PLOS ONE Research in the Media

Accompanying the new 10 Years of Research in the Media Collection, PLOS ONE Associate Editor, Nicola Stead discusses some of coverage received in the journal’s 10 year history.

As one of the world’s largest multi- and interdisciplinary journals, PLOS ONE has seen press coverage over a wide range of areas in the past 10 years. In this 10th Annviversary collection we look back at just a small fraction of some of the notable cover PLOS ONE research has received.

Given its ability to affect human health and lives, clinical and epidemiological research is understandably always of interest to the wider public and is frequently reported in the media. Just two years after launching PLOS ONE, Mady Hornig et al.’s case-control study provided strong evidence against the claims that MMR vaccines contributes to autism with enteropathy (gastrointestinal disorders). The study gained much attention at the time and continues to be featured within the media as conversation regarding the importance of vaccination continues and has been recently featured in Wired. In 2010, Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler’s work looking at the spread of the flu within social networks received interest from the LA Times, The New York Times and The Wall Street journal. In the same year a randomized-control trial showed that telling patients they were getting a placebo (“placebo without deception”) might be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome and was featured in over 265 articles including coverage in the The New York Times, NPR and TIME magazine.

Understanding our human “quirks” and behaviours always do well in the media and  a study that used real-time imaging to investigate joint cavitation (or cracking) gained much interest from around the globe being featured in NPR, The Telegraph, and on the Io9 and Wired blogs. Similarly, understanding personality and evolution of language are both intriguing research areas and two papers “Regional Personality Differences in Great Britain” and  Is “Huh?” a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items” received a lot of positive coverage within the media.

On the other end of the spectrum, archaeology studies have helped us understand more about our human predecessors and their way of life. A study in 2013 documenting the unearthing of the oldest hominin footprints outside Africa, at Happisburgh, UK, caused  quite a stir and was featured by many newspapers and magazines including the The Guardian, Spiegel Online and National Geographic. Similarly, a study  revealing that Neanderthals were susceptible to tumours in a study of ribs more than 120,000 years old, also received attention from news outlets such as The New York Times and BBC News.

Research featuring humans (both past and present) is certainly of broad interest, but we have also seen a lot of exciting research about the natural world and non-human organisms being picked up in the press. The mystery of sliding rocks in Death Valley was solved in a PLOS ONE article in 2014 and was in  featured in the LA Times and The Washington Post. Just a year earlier,  “weather forecasting” insects that avoid sexual behaviours during low atmospheric pressure preceding rain garnered coverage in Nature News and ScienceNOW. A proposal of a fourth domain of life was also a media hit in 2011 and was covered by the New Scientist and The Economist as well as in the author’s own blog The Tree of Life. In 2015, Spider Webs made the news with a new method to identify the spider species and its prey by spider web DNA and was featured in the BBC News. The description of new species from dinosaurs to monkeys are always a firm favourites in the media, but stay tuned for another collection to find out more about about those!

In this 10th Anniversary Collection we have only been able to highlight just a small fraction of the articles that have been featured in the press but to find more  you can find more examples in our yearly media highlights on the EveryONE blog. In the meantime, do keep an eye on your local news outlet for some more PLOS ONE research.


Hornig M, Briese T, Buie T, Bauman ML, Lauwers G, Siemetzki U, et al. (2008) Lack of Association between Measles Virus Vaccine and Autism with Enteropathy: A Case-Control Study. PLoS ONE 3(9): e3140.

Christakis NA, Fowler JH (2010) Social Network Sensors for Early Detection of Contagious Outbreaks. PLoS ONE 5(9): e12948.

Kaptchuk TJ, Friedlander E, Kelley JM, Sanchez MN, Kokkotou E, Singer JP, et al. (2010) Placebos without Deception: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. PLoS ONE 5(12): e15591.

Kawchuk GN, Fryer J, Jaremko JL, Zeng H, Rowe L, Thompson R (2015) Real-Time Visualization of Joint Cavitation. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0119470.

Rentfrow PJ, Jokela M, Lamb ME (2015) Regional Personality Differences in Great Britain. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0122245.

Dingemanse M, Torreira F, Enfield NJ (2013) Is “Huh?” a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items. PLoS ONE 8(11): e78273.

Monge J, Kricun M, Radovčić J, Radovčić D, Mann A, Frayer DW (2013) Fibrous Dysplasia in a 120,000+ Year Old Neandertal from Krapina, Croatia. PLoS ONE 8(6): e64539.

Ashton N, Lewis SG, De Groote I, Duffy SM, Bates M, Bates R, et al. (2014) Hominin Footprints from Early Pleistocene Deposits at Happisburgh, UK. PLoS ONE 9(2): e88329.

Norris RD, Norris JM, Lorenz RD, Ray J, Jackson B (2014) Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion. PLoS ONE 9(8): e105948.

Wu D, Wu M, Halpern A, Rusch DB, Yooseph S, Frazier M, et al. (2011) Stalking the Fourth Domain in Metagenomic Data: Searching for, Discovering, and Interpreting Novel, Deep Branches in Marker Gene Phylogenetic Trees. PLoS ONE 6(3): e18011.

Pellegrino AC, Peñaflor MFGV, Nardi C, Bezner-Kerr W, Guglielmo CG, Bento JMS, et al. (2013) Weather Forecasting by Insects: Modified Sexual Behaviour in Response to Atmospheric Pressure Changes. PLoS ONE 8(10): e75004.

Xu CCY, Yen IJ, Bowman D, Turner CR (2015) Spider Web DNA: A New Spin on Noninvasive Genetics of Predator and Prey. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0142503.

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