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PLoS at the White House

I have no time to blog, but I couldn’t keep this small factoid to my self: PLoS ONE is already influencing the US government.

I was rummaging around in the page stats for the PLoS ONE site earlier today (4 million hits from 31 thousand unique visitors in February, thank you for asking) and was glancing down the list of external links through which users have entered PLoS ONE.

Most of these are fairly obvious:
almost 5 thousand arrivals from PubMed for example (all numbers in this post refer to the month of February by the way).

Some were interesting:
1 thousand 7 hundred users arrived by way of the Spanish language evolution blog “El Blog de Evolutionibus”, the highest referral from any blog.

Some were surprising:
3 thousand 5 hundred from 154 pages on Alf Eaton’s re-presentation site, PLoS Too.

But the one that particularly caught my eye was 15 arrivals from a page OK 15 referals isn’t many but still, I was intrigued. Unfortunately the referring page doesn’t exist anymore and I’m not experienced at using things like the Wayback Machine. However a quick search on the White House website turned up a report from the Domestic Policy Council dated 9th January 2007 “Advancing Stem Cell Science Without Destroying Human Life” and also a reference list from The President’s Council on Bioethics “New Advances in Non-Embryonic Stem Cell Research Since 2005”. Both of these cite two PLoS ONE papers “Designer Self-Assembling Peptide Nanofiber Scaffolds for Adult Mouse Neural Stem Cell 3-Dimensional Cultures Fabrizio” by Gelain et al. and “Mesenchymal Stem Cell-Mediated Functional Tooth Regeneration in Swine” by Wataru Sonoyama et al.

I call that pretty good penetrance for a journal that was less than a month old!

  1. Those numbers sound great. The number of hits (I guess these are page views) in February sounds almost too high. You say PLoS One had 4 million hits in February and in the PDF kit for advertisers PLoS Biology is mentioned to have 2 million downloaded pages per year. Is PLoS One really getting more views in one month than PLoS Biology in a year?
    In any case, congratulations on the visibility of the journal. I can imagine how the numbers would look like if the site had more community “sticky” features :).

  2. Thanks Pedro.

    I have to confess to being very bad at understanding web stats, worse yet I leav the rules for what numbers can and can’t be used in advertiser info. The numbers are sane though as the same number on PLoS Biology is about 10 million. That seems fair. PLoS ONE hasn’t published as many papers as PLoS Biology yet. We’ll need a couple more months to pass that point.

  3. So first, congratulations on those numbers.

    However, I can’t seem to get over the disappointment that PLoS ONE meant to me. I read about it way before it was launched, and I couldn’t contain my excitement: Finally, a PLoS journal for all fields! I love the PLoS effort (really, I even evangelize and everything), but being a physicist I couldn’t publish in it.

    However, immediately after the PLoS ONE launch I formed an opinion that I still hold (and hope it’s not true): PLoS ONE will fail miserably in all science fields except for medicine and some of biology. And I don’t say this because I want to, but if the current strategy of the journal doesn’t change, this could also mean failure in even those two fields.

    The explanation is very simple and illustrated with my personal example: I had a nice piece of work that I was eager to submit to PLoS one, until I realized that the journal’s articles where separated by subject: physics, mathematics, computer science, and…nutrition !?!?! Ophthalmology ?!?!? What is this?

    Obviously, it is just a medicine journal where you can publish other stuff if you like. However, none (NONE) of my colleagues will ever come to read something from this journal.

    Actually, I find it very demeaning that a journal that “welcomes reports on primary research from any scientific discipline” treats physics in the same footing as dermatology. Why wasn’t “Medicine” enough, with sub-categories inside? This cannot be too challenging technologically, and it could obviously be used with other fields as well (optics, relativity, and so on for physics), improving the browsing capabilities of the journal.

    I cannot and I will not publish my research in PLoS ONE until this is changed. If not, I will not stop feeling offended and discrediting it until the Journal Information page is changed to reflect the actual scope of PLoS ONE.

    I sincerely hope you listen to these comments and truly become a broad scope journal.

  4. Is there a search engine anywhere? It really is a bit tedious searching through 151 articles on genetics on PloS ONE when I only vaguely know the tile and one author….

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