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New Leadership at PLoS Biology

To mark the appointment of the first Academic Editor-in-Chief for PLoS Biology, there are two editorials published in the journal today: the first is from the staff editors who discuss the background to this appointment, and the second is from the Academic Editor-in-Chief himself, Jonathan Eisen. This is also the perfect moment to introduce Theo Bloom as the new Chief Editor of the journal. Theo has been a key figure in the world of open access publishing for several years – most recently as the Editorial Director of BioMed Central. We’re delighted to welcome Theo and Jonathan to PLoS Biology. Here are a few thoughts from Theo about open access and joining PLoS.



“These are exciting times for the open access movement, for the Public Library of Science and for PLoS Biology. A central aim of open access publishing is that copies of research articles not only be made available free to readers but also be deposited into large international databases, from which they can be downloaded, analyzed and re-used by anyone (subject only to proper citation of the original publication). Now, in the US, we are a few short weeks’ from the implementation of the National Institutes of Health new Public Access Policy. This will make it a requirement that researchers whose work is supported by funds from NIH deposit into the open access repository PubMed Central final copies of all manuscripts that are accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals, so that they become publicly available within 12 months of publication. (The Association of Research Libraries has produced a useful guide to the new policy and what researchers must do to comply – but one simple way to comply is to publish in PLoS journals.) In Europe, a similar mandate from the European Research Council means that the researchers it funds must do the same (within six months of publication).


These government-funded agencies are following a lead provided by two large charitable funders of biomedical research, the Wellcome Trust and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, both of whom already require their researchers to make all the original, peer-reviewed research articles produced from work they fund available within 6 months of publication. Importantly, in each case, the organization mandating open access also provides funds and mechanisms to make this possible. And now, that most venerable institution Harvard University has seen its Faculty of Arts and Sciences vote to authorize the deposition of all their work upon publication (individual researchers can opt out, publishing an article exclusively in a journal and not putting it into the departmental repository, but they will have to actively do so – deposition is the default position). Although the Harvard move can be dismissed as being by only one group within one university, it is the first such move by a US university, and many commentators believe that where Harvard leads, others will soon follow.



Since its inception, the Public Library of Science has been campaigning and working to achieve changes such as these, so it is perhaps not surprising that there is an air of celebration around the organization, and we are enjoying the renewed momentum (and publicity) these moves give to the open access cause. For me personally, this is therefore a wonderfully exciting time to be taking the helm as PLoS Biology’s Chief Editor.



But we have another reason for celebration that is much closer to home: PLoS Biology has just appointed its first Academic Editor-in-Chief. Since the launch of this, the first journal from PLoS, it has pushed the boundaries of the traditional relationship between professional editors and academic advisors, by having individual Academic Editors involved in the consideration of every article that is destined for publication. Now we are taking this relationship one step further, by giving the researchers who serve on the editorial board and as Academic Editors a vocal advocate and champion – Jonathan Eisen, who has been a member of the editorial board of the journal from its inception.


The professional editorial team retains overall editorial responsibility for PLoS Biology, and will work with Jonathan as a key community representative to develop the journal and its policies. The editorial from the staff editors explains more details of the plans for this partnership, and the accompanying editorial by Jonathan explains why he wants to take on this new challenge. I am delighted to have this opportunity to welcome Jonathan aboard. I know that I speak for the outstanding team of professional editors who work full-time for the journal in saying that we could not do what we do without the frequent, rapid and incredibly thoughtful help of all of the researchers who serve on the Editorial Board, as Academic Editors and also as reviewers. We will continue to strive to make PLoS Biology an outstanding icon for open access, and we look forward to taking these challenges forward in a new partnership with Jonathan at this exciting time.“

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