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PLoS ONE at 500

This needs shouting about. PLoS ONE just published its 500th paper! Yep that’s right since launch, a matter of five an a half months or twenty five weeks, PLoS ONE has published over 500 pieces of peer reviewed original research.

The 500th paper comes from Sarah Randolph and colleagues in Oxford, UK; Vilnius. Lithuania; Riga, Latvia; and Tallinn, Estonia and is called “Climate Change Cannot Explain the Upsurge of Tick-Borne Encephalitis in the Baltics”. Just to show off the big five-double-O again the full citation is:

Sumilo D, Asokliene L, Bormane A, Vasilenko V, Golovljova I, et al. (2007) Climate Change Cannot Explain the Upsurge of Tick-Borne Encephalitis in the Baltics. PLoS ONE 2(6): e500. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000500

What it shows is that politics has had major influence on the rise of tick-borne disease in Eastern Europe over recent decades making for a more complex picture than simply blaming climate change.

This is most certainly the cherry on the top of an incredible half year:

1,411 submissions

513 published paper

360 member editorial board and growing

19 day average acceptance to publication

> 600 post publication comments posted

Now to get to grips with the next 500!

  1. Hi! I came across PLoS ONE only recently and I was amazed by the vast archive of research. I was wondering, are there any articles that can be used as a springboard for high school research? Or could you give some creative suggestions and hot topics? Thank you very much!


  2. These numbers are quite interesting. Particularly the ratio of submissions to published papers. Am I right in thinking this means you are rejecting 60-70% of all submissions? If so it would be interesting to know why this is so. This seems to be a higher rejection rate than some low ranking journals.

    Obviously the PLoS ONE editorial guidelines are quite clear but for more than half of the papers submitted to not reach the standard of ‘publishable’ seems quite suprising. Is it a result of lots of submissions by cranks, or are there that many genuine submissions that fall below the bar? Or is it just a result of the way the journal is growing?

  3. Hi Cameron,

    The figures don’t actually show that high a rejection rate. Many of the papers submitted are still under consideration and so have neither been accepted nor rejected. This actually makes it quite difficult to work out what the acceptance/rejection rate on PLoS ONE really is.

    We are growing quickly and are still very new so the flow of submissions isn’t at any kind of steady state. Our best estimates at the moment is that acceptance rate will be somewhere between 60% and 80%.

    Why are papers rejected?

    Some are rejected because they aren’t within the scope of PLoS ONE, meaning that they aren’t primary research. PLoS ONE isn’t designed to handle reviews, essays, opinion pieces and other items of ‘Secondary’ literature.

    But the major reason for rejection is that the editors feel that the data presented is not of a sufficient quality and completeness to support conclusions.

  4. Thanks for the info Chris. I thought it might be something along those lines. I was somewhat disturbed by the idea that more than half of the submissions didn’t have data of sufficient quality but 60-80% being above the bar is much more along the lines of what I would have expected. It will be interesting to see what it pans out to be in the end.

  5. Thanks for the reply that brings quality of data into play. I have been impressed with PLOS biology but after reading the first PLOS One article I ever picked up on PubMed, I was devastated to see how poorly written and referenced the article was, not to speak of the quality of the data. I hope I don’t have to see such again and shudder when I think that the article may become a reference in its own right. Responsibility I believe is required in making choices as to what comes out and what does not. Hope to read a substantially better article next time I open a PLOS one reference. Cheers

  6. Dear Klas,

    Did you leave comments on the paper expressing your concerns? It is very important that assessment and ‘refereeing’ continues after publication of papers. At the very least please go back now to the offending paper and rate it low on ‘reliability’ and ‘style’ if that is what you think.

    We certainly do not intend to publish poor papers but if poor papers are published it is important that their inadequacies are exposed as much as it is important to highlight the strengths of others.

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