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Article redesign on PLoS Journals

Some new features have just been added to the articles in the PLoS Journals (all except PLoS Biology which will be added soon), and we wanted to give a short summary of the key changes. This site redesign represents another step in the development of Topaz, the open source publishing system that will shortly host all of our journals once PLoS Biology migrates to the platform in a couple of months (see also Rich Cave’s blog post).

Most of the new features that we’re introducing this week affect the article pages – not the home pages or other pages. For example, articles now incorporate a tabbed format to accommodate extra content and information about each article. Initially there are three tabs – the article itself, related content, and comments. We feel this is a useful way to organize article content, because we will be able to add more tabs in future, as opportunities and ideas arise.

The first tab, “Article”, will look familiar, but there are some adjustments to the links provided in the right hand columns. We’ve improved the navigation to the different sections of an article (for example Introduction, References) by placing the ‘jump to’ menu in a more prominent position. We’ve also made it easier to add Notes and Ratings to the article. One further addition is that we require all users to indicate any competing interests in their Notes, Ratings and General Comments.

The second tab is called “Related Content” and this is where we think users will find some interesting new information, such as links to related content in Google Scholar, PubMed, and in PLoS journals. In addition, we are providing links that give some sense of the impact or influence of an individual article. For example, we indicate how many times the article has been cited in PubMed Central and Scopus, and there is a link to the lists of those citing articles (note that Scopus is a subscription service, and if you do not subscribe then you will only see the first 20 citing articles). We also provide a link to Google Scholar (a free service) so that users can see how many times the article has been cited there. We would like to indicate the actual number of citations in the Google Scholar database on the article page itself, but Google Scholar does not currently provide a mechanism for this, and so sometimes this link will return zero hits (when the article has not yet been cited for example).

Two other potential indicators of article impact are the number of times the article has been bookmarked in social bookmarking services such as Connotea and CiteUlike and the amount of coverage that the article has received in the blogosphere (as measured by blog aggregating services such as Bloglines, Postgenomic, and Nature Blogs. We provide new links to all these services and continue to provide Trackback links which are another way to follow blog coverage.

When you review the new article-level data, it’s worth remembering that most newly published articles will show little or no activity because it takes time to build up. Bear in mind too that the data are certainly not complete – we’re planning to add more data as other relevant services provide a suitable computational interface. Also, over the next few months, we will be adding usage statistics (article downloads) to each article. These new and planned links and features are steps towards a long-term vision to provide novel, meaningful and efficient mechanisms for assessing the impact of individual research articles.

The third tab in the new article design is entitled “Comments”. This is where you will find user-generated notes, general comments, and corrections on the article together with a Comments RSS feed, which is useful for authors who want to keep track of activity on their article.

As always, we welcome your thoughts ( on our new design and features. We are already planning another new release within the next few months, so comments and ideas would be very helpful over the coming weeks.

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