Sunday, July 6, 2008

The ‘threatening’ success of PLoS; now heard aloud!

I was so happy to have published in May this year an invited perspectives article in a Nature Reviews journal. I considered Nature a prestigious place to publish and that they are highly organized and professional. However, sadly, this belief stand shaken after reading a slanted story in the recent issue of Nature, apparently attacking PLoS (that Nature sees as competitor!). I am kinda surprised; sometime back a similar slang on PLoS was passed by another group, although it was not heard aloud. Well that means PLoS is fast becoming a threatening success! Thanks to the cause that it bolsters and the public support that it enjoys globally.

As the matter currently dominantes blogosphere (see links below), I think I am not alone with my shaken belief; this should be sorrowfully the case of many who proudly published in journals of both Nature and PLoS. I wonder, if Nature risks alienating many of its well-wishers with such a stand it has taken against PLoS and Open Access.

I found the overall tone and spirit of the news article quite disturbing and distasteful. Especially, their painting of PLoS ONE journal as a ‘dumping ground’ and mention of its peer review process as ‘light’ is not at all correct and ignores facts. I see it as an unsuccessful attempt to dump all the ground-breaking work that PLoS ONE has been publishing since its launch in 2006 (see these posts for exmple; here, here and here). As I said in my response to the story, it is a simple fact that the ~300 scientists who publish in PLoS ONE every month and the 500 Editors who devote their time on rounds of peer reviewing are certainly not the fools out there.

The story referred PLoS as resorting to ‘bulk and cheap publishing’; what a slang! Apparently, however, the "bulk, cheap and lower quality papers" published by PLoS are not going unnoticed by Nature. Three of the ‘Research Highlights’ articles in the same issue report on articles published in PLoS journals (two from PLoS ONE! and one from PLoS Genetics). And I quote Scott Ramsey: ‘If it (the research that PLoS published) is not interesting enough to publish in Nature, at least it provides enough free copy to help round out an issue’!

Finally, I do not want to add more on my own perspective here as it is no different than what many others have already rolled out. There has been tremendous outrage to Nature’s self serving article (apparently all going in favor of PLoS!) in the blogosphere, as well as in the comments thread of the article itself. A summary of the relevant posts on the article can be found at:

Links to other related posts are here:

Conflict of interest statement: I volunteer as Section Editor for PLoS ONE.