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Very soon, the Public Library of Science (PLoS) will launch PLoS ONE, which may be considered a revolution in science publishing. Until recently, scientific primary literature ("papers") were published in one of approx. 20,000 scientific journals. You can't buy these journals at your newsstand, you need to subscribe to them. Some of these subscriptions can run up to thousands of US$ a year and university libraries have been struggeling with these costs for decades now. In this system, the scientists paid very little or nothing for publications of their work, but the work was basically only accessible to other researchers (with adequately funded libraries). For the last few years, there has now been a growing trend towards so-called "open-access" to scientific primary literature. The idea is that publicly funded research should be publicly available. So publication costs should be paid by the scientists out of their public research grants (instead by the libraries), in order make them freely accessible by everyone. This trend led to PLoS. However, the format of their publications was, until now, still that of "journals".
PLoS ONE will depart from this format considerably. Like a YouTube for scientific primary literature, it will publish all research and use comments, rankings, downloads and other "community tools" to assess scientific quality and importance. Papers published there will still be "peer-reviewed" meaning that experts checked it for serious flaws, but "subjective" editorial rejections are not supposed to occur any more. A recent PLoS Biology article details the vision behind the new portal: ONE for All: The Next Step for PLoS
Personally, I think a portal like this should replace all scientific journals completely. While such a radical departure from traditional scientific publishing will probably not happen any time soon, the time-consuming and often nerve-wrecking poker game of "which journal do I submit my work to?" has to eventually end and make room for a rational publication strategy that benefits everyone. Did I mention I submitted what I consider one of my most important projects so far to PLoS ONE? The work on order in spontaneous behavior is under peer-review in PLoS ONE right now.
Posted on Friday 17 November 2006 - 14:27:18 comment: 0

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