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PLoS ONE – a ‘Squandered Opportunity’ or ‘Radical Model’ ?

May 4, 2010

Early last week PLoS ONE got a punch from the ScholarlyKitchen (SK) blog and since the dust seems to have settled down after a multitude of comments (80 to be precise), often aggressive, I decided it time to post my analysis.

SK charges PLoS ONE –

  • low-quality
  • high-volume
  • bulk-processing manuscripts into journal dress
  • a salvation achieved [for PLoS] via bulk publishing
  • [having a] path of least resistance/filters for author-pays publishing

and goes on to conclude

…. these “journals” trade off the trust other journals and the journal culture itself have created.

In reading the critique and the follow up comments it was quite apparent that the opponents and defenders (of PLoS ONE) are a dedicated bunch with the opponents consisting of ‘professional editors’ and the defenders all ‘academic’. The PEs were all non-academic and people who never or in the recent past published a research article. The polarization was quite apparent.

Against the ‘low-quality’ argument, I have the below illustration to offer. The underlying data was hiding in one of the friendfeeds and shows the revision cycles of the accepted manuscripts during the first quarter of 2010. Combining this with the 30% rejection rate (see my earlier post) and the fact that the submitted manuscripts often possibly have been through a submission cycle at a different journal earlier, anyone still convinced of the low quality argument?

As for the ‘filters’ argument, here is a good response.

Seem to me it is now well recognized that research repositories/directories are the future of scientific publishing and SK is not convinced. At its inception, apart from being an OA proponent, PLoS wasn’t that radical (and was the sole reason of my critique in 2003) but with a lot of community involvement in the form of thousands of academic editors, inclusive scope, XML output, web 2.0 tools etc., the PLoS ONE model seem to have all the ingredients to be considered radical.

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