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To boldly grow: five new journals shaped by Open Science

PLOS announces new journals

We are extremely excited to announce the imminent launch of five new journals, our first new launches in fourteen years. These new journals are unified in addressing global health and environmental challenges and are rooted in the full values of Open Science:

But, before we go on, let’s address this: “Yet more journals?” (Yes, we heard you…!)

Yes. We set out, with our original seven journals, to transform research communication by making research content openly accessible. Over the eighteen years since our first journal launch we’ve helped prove the viability of Open Access which, despite the occasional disagreement about how best to achieve it, is now a mainstream notion. We changed the publishing landscape via PLOS ONE, and this new type of “mega-journal” now features at almost every publisher and in every research field. We helped focus the conversation about peer review on rigor and transparency, and more people now understand how impact-seeking should never be at the expense of these notions. And, via open data policies, open peer review options, protocols, preregistration, preprint facilitation, etc., we’ve worked towards Open Science at a scale and in ways that increase the transparency and rigor of the entire research communication process, not just our journals. 

All this is to say that we do not take lightly the responsibility of introducing new journals into the world. While we don’t believe the long-term future of research communication is always going to be the journal as we know it today, we do appreciate the impacts that journals can still have, and the new communities of practice they can empower. 

Therefore, we are launching these five journals in the spirit of them being additional change-making vehicles.

We’ve invited key members of the PLOS Leadership Team along with our CEO, Alison Mudditt, to field specific questions, below: 

“Why launch new journals at this point in PLOS’ journey?” 

Niamh O’Connor, Chief Publishing Officer, PLOS

“We’re a nonprofit, driven by our mission, and we need to adapt to continue to deliver on it. Even though Open Access is now widely adopted, and Open Science is advancing, there are still key voices missing. We are expanding our global footprint in locally responsible ways to get closer to researchers. Researchers have always driven our mission forward, and in order for us to have a meaningful impact we need to include the broadest range of their voices, globally. This way, we ensure the co-creation of paths to Open Science that work for diverse communities and do not simply extend existing power structures. These new journals create new and diverse communities of practice, and ensure that they are at the forefront of shaping how we address the most pressing health and environmental issues facing our society. 

Additionally, all these journals will be underpinned by our existing, and new, institutional business models that move beyond the APC to ensure more equitable and regionally appropriate ways to support Open Access publishing. Our existing institutional models are our Community Action Publishing (CAP) and Flat Fee agreement models. We’ll talk more about our brand new models when the journals open for submissions, suffice to say that they are also not based on APCs. With all this said, author fee-based models will still be available for those authors who prefer or need them.”

“What are the special characteristics of these new journals?”

Dan Shanahan, Publishing Director, PLOS

“As Niamh says, our next phase of work is not just about Open Access. These new journals not only complement and naturally extend the existing PLOS suite of journals, but will hardwire a lens of social responsibility into sharing research. Via these new journals we can work together to address the most pressing ‘Openness’ issue specific to each field, and enable the researchers addressing these challenges, everywhere, to have the broadest impact. 

In full alignment with the proposed UNESCO Recommendation on Open Science, these titles will ensure diversity and equity of representation at all levels – editors, editorial boards, reviewers, authors – and will actively seek out research from under-represented communities. The journals will play a part in broader efforts to create a more equitable system of knowledge-sharing, accelerating and increasing the benefits of scientific endeavour for global society as a whole. 

The new journals all focus on some of the world’s most globally-relevant issues, to which locally-relevant research can, and must, become more visible. This approach will directly challenge the unfortunate norm that most ‘global’ forums remain dominated by research from Western Europe and North America.”

“How will these journals contribute to the increased adoption of Open Science practices?”

Veronique Kiermer, Chief Scientific Officer, PLOS

“PLOS has always led on key Open Science matters, we are experimenters, but we’re also striving to be better listeners. We know a rigid approach to Open Science won’t foster equitable participation from all communities. As a publisher, we’ve never been driven by tradition, but by a willingness to question the status quo and an eagerness to explore how we can understand and improve the system. We’ll continue to investigate and test new ways of sharing, assessing, and recognizing research. We’ll be partnering with leaders across research communities, and the Open Science communities, to enact change. Not every solution will be journal-shaped, but all our journals will be shaped by Open Science, enabling those who publish with us to join communities of practice. We can use our newly expanded journal portfolio to influence norms and advance Open Science practices in considered and appropriate ways. We stand firm on any policies like open data that promote rigor and advance trust in research, but we want to understand the specific challenges that such policies represent for new communities, and work with them to find solutions that empower them, in their contexts, to practice Open Science. Overall, we want to further empower new communities to join us and inform us, working more tightly together towards ever more trust in science.”

“How does this expansion of the portfolio fit into PLOS’ wider aims for the future?”

Alison Mudditt, Chief Executive Officer, PLOS

“PLOS has grown, times have changed, and how we deliver our mission has to evolve. Science is a global, collaborative enterprise. Challenging times help us see where we are and where we need to be. Global collaboration, transparency, and trust in science (and policies…and interventions…)  have all become recurring themes. We’re also coming to terms with how we, as a society, need to do a lot more to address systemic barriers to inclusion. How we think of ourselves as an organization, especially a research communication organization, isn’t separate from everything else going on in the world today. We have always worked to raise the bar for Openness. To continue this work we need to continue to grow – but not just in the traditional business sense, and not just in counting the number of journals we publish: we also need to, and have concrete plans to, spread our roots deeper, create more global hubs for PLOS, absorb researchers and local practices more fully into our business, and, as others commented before me, ensure that any journal we publish is informed by local communities at a global scale, challenging problems, and rebuilding the system better.”

Watch these spaces!

We have Editors in place, we have dedicated staff, and the journals will open for submissions a little later this year. All updated information will appear on the respective journal websites (linked from the list above) as the journals take shape. Visit them often for submission guidelines, how our editorial boards are developing, how to apply to be a member of the board, where to follow them on social media, etc.

Please share this news on your preferred social media via the buttons above. If you would like to join the Facebook and LinkedIn groups “PLOS Open Science Champions” for early announcements of this type, please visit the groups and request to be added: LinkedIn; Facebook

Thank you for reading, and thank you to all of you who have supported us since the launch of PLOS Biology eighteen years ago in 2003. PLOS, and Open Access itself, would not be this far along without you!

–PLOS

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank everyone who supported us and provided input and insight for these new journals, including Jamie Bartram, University of Leeds, UK; Clarissa Brocklehurst, Water and Sanitation Specialist, Canada; Alexandros Gasparatos, University of Tokyo, Japan; Alex Godoy-Faúndez, Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile; Ashantha Goonetilleke, Queensland University of Technology, Australia; Suzanne Hulscher, University of Twente, the Netherlands; Lawrence E. Hunter, University of Colorado School of Medicine, USA; Christopher Jackson, Imperial College London, UK; Malte Meinshausen, University of Melbourne, Australia; Angus Morrison Saunders, Edith Cowan University, Australia; Lucila Ohno-Machado, University of California, San Diego, USA; Farhana Sultana, Syracuse University, USA;  among others, as well as the PLOS Scientific Advisory Council.

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