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Publishing Initiatives at PLOS: Improving the Author Experience

The last few months have brought exciting developments at PLOS, and we’ll be doing more in 2015 to make the publishing experience with PLOS even better. Today’s post will talk about just some of what is new now and due in the near term.  We will have much more coming as the year progresses.

We are implementing a number of exciting publishing-related changes aimed at improving the author and community experience. Specifically, these projects aim to reduce time to publication, reduce post-publication correction rates, and above all, provide our community greater access to scientific research – the reason PLOS exists.  Many of these projects will occur behind the scenes and will serve as the pillars of future initiatives, while others will be more visible to the community.

New PDF Design

One of these foundational projects began late last year, aimed at optimizing our production processes for speed and accuracy.  We have implemented a new, single column PDF design that will enable a more efficient composition process, while improving readability on the variety of devices used by the community.  This month, in order to streamline the editorial and production processes across all the journals, we added guidance and information to our author instructions. These new requirements set the foundation for more automated processes that will increase the speed with which PLOS makes published research available online.

New Composition Vendor

In addition we have been shifting workflows and vendors behind the scenes, including transitioning to a new composition vendor. These changes are focused on improving our quality assurance and typesetting processes, and increasing overall publishing efficiency across all seven of our journals.   Results that authors and readers will see in coming weeks and months include continuous publishing schedules for all journals (not just PLOS ONE), whereby papers are published as soon as they are ready; a new tool for authors that will actively assist them in preparing figures for submission; and the gradual introduction of an author proofing step for several journals later this year.

A Temporary Slow-Down for Long Term Gains 

These changes require that PLOS build out new and improved workflows and carefully develop new ways of handling the thousands of manuscripts received each month. In the short term, this will certainly affect our speed to publication and publication volumes. Readers and authors may notice this, but the end result will be gains in speed, efficiency, and quality that will be worth the delays during this transition.

While we work to achieve these ambitious goals, we appreciate the patience shown by our authors and our community.  We’re excited to carry on our mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication and thank our many supporters and contributors who make this work possible.

 


 

Discussion
  1. ‘- “In the short term, this will certainly affect our speed to publication and publication volumes. Readers and authors may notice this…”

    Some athors definitely have noticed. In fact, the delay in publication is beyond noticeable, it is hardly acceptable. Our manuscript was formally accepted by PLOS One on January 8th, 2015. Two months later, there is still no publication. This is way worse than in any traditional hard copy journal. All journals familiar to me post online “In Press” publications within two weeks from fromal acceptance.

    So it is clear that PLOS is making transitions at the expence of the authors. Whereas the gains are not immediately clear to me, the lossses are obvious. The Journal had to plan the transition in advance to make it smoother and avoid the huge delays. It could be fair to give a warning. If I knew about the delay, I would choose a different journal. The time is of essence these days more than ever. I will think twice before submitting to PLOS One next time.

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