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Ten Years of Advancing Science as ONE

This special blog post in celebration of the journal’s tenth anniversary is authored by Joerg Heber, PLOS ONE Editor-in-Chief.

Ten years ago on this day, PLOS ONE published its first papers, thus embarking on its stated mission to be an open public venue for all rigorous scientific research from every discipline: a journal that promotes open science and access to the peer-reviewed literature for all.

Being designed to be a home for all research, PLOS ONE always had the potential to be a large journal. Yet who would have foreseen the publication of more than 165,000 articles in its first decade? This enormous success would not have been possible without the support of the academic community submitting these papers, the efforts of the editorial board, the peer reviewers assessing submitted papers and last but not least the staff at the journal, past and present. Thank you all! An appreciation of PLOS ONE’s history and its achievements is the topic of a separate post on the EveryONE blog.

As the newly-appointed Editor-in-Chief of PLOS ONE, I am privileged and very lucky indeed to be leading this great journal into its second decade. The environment that we are operating in has changed significantly during the past decade, stimulated to a degree by our own success. Other journals are now using similar publishing models, which is a welcome development. The more Open Access journals operating without any subjective selection criteria of their published output beyond scientific validity, the better it is for science. At PLOS ONE, we continue to be a home to all research, whether it is a step-wise advance, a replication, a negative result or a study that fundamentally changes the thinking in a field.

We cannot rest there, and PLOS ONE needs to continue its mission to facilitate and drive open science. Making scientific papers open to read, to utilize them and to distribute them is only one facet of the scientific process. Opening this process further promises significant advances. An example is the sharing of primary research data, which in many instances can stimulate follow-up studies by others. Already we have a strong data availability policy in place, and we will continue to refine its implementation and will continue to drive further efforts towards rewarding those scientists who do share their primary data.

Sharing scientific results and conclusions more broadly also needs to take place earlier in the process, so that others can build on new findings as soon as possible. At PLOS, we are strong supporters of preprint servers to communicate research. PLOS ONE is an ideal partner for such efforts, given our mission to publish all rigorous scientific conclusions. Embedding preprints into the publishing process, as we have already done with bioRxiv, increases its transparency. Going forward, we need to strive to also open our peer review process, lending strong support to the wider adoption of this model.

Other publishers and journals are working on similar themes, and we applaud this. While these initiatives mean a faster and larger increase in the global number of open articles published and available globally to the scientific community, the submissions to PLOS ONE have decreased, posing the question of our continuing unique value in this market. There will be challenges, but irrespective of our size, PLOS ONE will always play an important role towards PLOS’ broader goal as a nonprofit organization to support and advocate open science.

We are driven by the belief that open science benefits everyone involved in the scientific process, which thrives best in an environment of collaboration. We are driven by serving the community and not by the need for the high profit margins made elsewhere in publishing, so that funding resources in the sciences are used in the most productive way—to conduct scientific research. And at PLOS ONE in particular we are driven to publish a journal that serves communication among scientists from all the natural sciences and engineering, from medical research, as well as from the related social sciences and humanities. Our strong board of academic editors from all disciplines enables the entire scientific community to come together, making PLOS ONE their journal.

As part of this mission, PLOS ONE has the opportunity as well as the obligation to play its role in addressing the challenges science and society are facing. We can and need to assume a strong role promoting scientifically rigorous, open, fact-based debates that facilitate solutions to these challenges. As we advance towards this goal, we all at PLOS ONE are truly grateful for the continuing, strong support of the scientific community, and building on this we are confident that we can be as successful going into our second decade as we have been these past ten years.

Image Credit: Gerd Altmann


Join us in celebrating PLOS ONE‘s Tenth Anniversary—here are some ways to get involved:





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