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Open Science is better science

At the heart of the Open Science movement is the conviction that Open Science is better science. More rigorous. More inclusive. More efficient. More trustworthy. More reproducible. And more impactful for society.

The different aspects of Open Science practice—from open methods and data, to preprints, to ORCID and CRediT, to published peer review—are all part of a mutually reinforcing cycle. Each component works in tandem, and as adoption rises the benefits increase, spiraling ever outward, reshaping our research system and, ultimately, producing better science.

At PLOS, our mission is to lead that transformation. We believe we can best accomplish that by empowering researchers to engage in fundamental Open Science practices on a large scale, by:

  1. Offering Open Science options that serve researchers’ goals and priorities, as well as those of the public, and
  2. Removing barriers and expanding access to Open Science to all researchers.

So far, it has worked. PLOS helped to demonstrate the feasibility of Open Access journals beginning in 2003 with PLOS Biology, and put Open Access within reach for more researchers than ever before with PLOS ONE in 2009. Our pioneering 2014 data availability policy has reset the standards for data sharing industry-wide. Our streamlined and collaborative approach to preprints reduces the administrative burden on researchers, normalizes early sharing, and increases access to new science.

This work continues today, through key projects designed to better understand researcher needs, incentivize Open behaviors to improve research quality and reliability, and increase access to Open publishing options. Read on for a short summary of some of our current efforts.

Open Science Indicators (OSIs)

In order to increase the prevalence of Open Science practices, we need to be able to reliably measure Open Science practices. Until recently, there was no easy way to do so, other than having an expert review and assess individual articles. Developed in partnership with DataSeer, Open Science Indicators (OSIs) use Natural Language Processing to identify and quantify Open Science behaviors in the published literature, and to compare rates of generation and adoption across discipline, region, and other factors. This enables PLOS to better understand and meet researcher needs; by making the dataset publicly available, we hope to support efforts outside PLOS as well. Currently, the OSI dataset includes data sharing, code sharing and preprints. We aim to include additional indicators in the future.

Accessible Data

Readers rely on raw scientific data for understanding, verification, replication and reanalysis, and to inform future investigations, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. But researchers can only access and use data if they are aware it exists. PLOS’ Accessible Data feature is an experimental functionality which increases the visibility of data posted in select public repositories on PLOS article pages. By highlighting publicly available data in this way, we hope to facilitate access and reuse, save readers time searching for public data online, and learn from user behavior. After a successful first year, the Accessible Data functionality was recently expanded from the original three servers to nine.

Moving beyond APCs

Article Processing Charges (APCs) have demonstrated that Open Access is viable, and allowed Open publishing to become a force in our industry. But APCs are also exclusionary and inequitable; burdensome for authors and time consuming for publishers to administer; and tend to create incentives that privilege volume over other considerations. At PLOS, we’re moving beyond APCs to new funding models that distribute the costs of publication more fairly and reduce expenses for everyone involved, including Community Action Publishing and institutional agreements. To date, we’ve partnered with over 280 universities, libraries, and other institutions in 28 countries to help bring Open Science within reach for all.


We hope you’ll join us in this important work in whatever ways make sense for you. When serving on search and tenure committees, consider candidates’ Open contributions alongside other qualifications. When communicating your own research, share as much as possible as early as you can within ethical boundaries. Choose mission-driven, Open Access publication venues when you have the opportunity. Let your institutions and funders know that you support APC-alternative funding. Together, we can reshape the scientific research system to serve all researchers, and produce the highest quality research.

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