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"PLoS ONE and the Rise of the Open Access Mega Journal" by Peter Binfield


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A presentation made by Peter Binfield, of Public Library of Science (PLoS), to the Society of Scholarly Publishing (SSP) meeting, June 1st 2011. Describing the model behind the journal PLoS ONE, some indications of the success of that model, and predicting the development of a new type of journal model for academic publishing - the Open Access Mega Journal.

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"PLoS ONE and the Rise of the Open Access Mega Journal" by Peter Binfield

  1. 1. PLoS ONE and the rise of the Open Access Mega Journal Committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a public resource Peter Binfield, Publisher PLoS,
  2. 2. Who are the Public Library of Science? <ul><li>Eight years old and the largest not-for-profit Open Access publisher </li></ul><ul><li>The publisher of 7 Open Access journals including PLoS ONE </li></ul><ul><li>Staffed by professional publishers from the likes of Nature, BMJ, Springer etc </li></ul><ul><li>Based in San Francisco, and Cambridge UK </li></ul><ul><li>Self Sustaining since late 2010 </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Establish high quality journals </li></ul><ul><ul><li>put PLoS and open access on the map </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Build a more extensive OA publishing operation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>an open access home for every paper </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make the literature more useful </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to scientists and the public </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>accelerate science </li></ul></ul>The Public Library of Science – our publishing strategy
  4. 4. PLoS Biology October, 2003 PLoS Medicine October, 2004 PLoS Community Journals June-September, 2005 October, 2007 PLoS ONE December, 2006
  5. 5. <ul><li>Objective Editorial criteria </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientifically rigorous </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Properly reported </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conclusions supported by the data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Editors and reviewers do not ask subjective questions such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How important is the work? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which is the relevant audience? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Everything that deserves to be published, will be published </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Therefore the journal is not artificially limited in size </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Online tools are then used to evaluate, sort & filter the content after publication, not before </li></ul>PLoS ONE’s Key Innovation – The editorial process
  6. 8. <ul><li>Scalability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>each submission ‘pays for itself’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the journal itself benefits from ‘economies of scale’ (e.g. it only peer reviews papers once; it presents all content in a single online environment) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Inclusive scope </li></ul><ul><ul><li>all of science and medicine </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Encouraging discussion and debate </li></ul><ul><ul><li>on PLoS ONE: Commenting, Rating and Annotation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>elsewhere: Editorial Board discussion forum; EveryONE blog; Twitter; FriendFeed; Facebook </li></ul></ul>What else is different?
  7. 9. The ‘Open Access Mega Journal' <ul><li>First, some statistics. There are: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Approx 10,000 publishers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publishing approx 25,000 journals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which publish approx 1.5 million articles per year (almost 1 million of which appear in PubMed) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In an industry which historically changes very slowly </li></ul></ul>
  8. 10. The ‘Open Access Mega Journal' <ul><li>can be defined as: </li></ul><ul><li>Very very large </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publishing thousands of articles per year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and benefiting from economies of scale </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Open Access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Because no one will pay a subscription fee for a journal that large (and growing that fast) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and using an OA Business Model where each article pays for its own costs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Preferably) without any ‘artificial’ constraints on its ability to grow </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, a desire to only publish ‘high impact; papers </li></ul></ul>
  9. 11. Publications by PLoS ONE per quarter since launch
  10. 12. Publications by PLoS ONE per quarter since launch Publications by PLoS ONE per quarter since launch
  11. 13. Publications by PLoS ONE per quarter since launch Publications by PLoS ONE per quarter since launch
  12. 14. <ul><li>* Projections for 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>By publication volume, PLoS ONE was the largest journal in the world in 2010, and will be the largest by a factor of 2-3 in 2011 </li></ul>PLoS ONE – statistics 0.52% 4,310 6,734 2009 0.7% 6,784 13,567 2010 ~1.5%* >12,000* >22,000* 2011 0.34% 2,723 4,401 2008 0.16% 1,231 2,497 2007 % of Annual PubMed Annual Publications Annual Submissions Year
  13. 15. “ Open Access Mega Journals” – One Name, Two Flavours <ul><li>‘ Clones’ of PLoS ONE (not selective) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SAGE Open </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>BMJ Open </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientific Reports (Nature) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AIP Advances (Am Inst Physics) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>G3 (Genetics Soc of America) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Biology Open (Company of Biologists) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Pseudo-Clones’ of PLoS ONE (probably selective) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical Review X (Am Physical Society) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open Biology (Royal Society) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cell Reports (Elsevier, Cell Press) </li></ul></ul>
  14. 16. The Conclusions… <ul><li>The ‘full’ PLoS ONE model is wildly successful </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On current trends, PLoS ONE will be publishing 3% of the STM literature in 2012 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Major publishers are rapidly launching PLoS ONE clones </li></ul><ul><li>Some others have held back from the full PLoS ONE model, but have still launched ‘OA MegaJournals’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For various reasons, it remains to be seen if this model will be as successful </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rumour has it that many others are in the works… </li></ul>
  15. 17. The Conclusions… <ul><li>I believe we have entered the era of the OA mega journal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Such journals can choose to be selective, or not </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>From early trends, they will mostly form around large disciplines and attempt to ‘own’ entire fields of science </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They will grow rapidly! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The opportunity to launch new OA mega journals is now </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some basic modeling predicts that in 2016, almost 50% of the STM literature could be published in approx 100 OA mega journals… </li></ul></ul>
  16. 18. The Consequences… <ul><li>Content will rapidly concentrate into a small number of very large titles </li></ul><ul><li>Filtering based solely on Journal name will disappear and will be replaced with new metrics </li></ul><ul><li>The content currently being published in the universe of 25,000 journals will presumably start to dry up </li></ul><ul><li>There are many open questions… </li></ul>
  17. 19. Peter Binfield Publisher, PLoS ONE and the Community Journals email: twitter: @p_binfield