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OA Weeks past, but not forgotten

Fourteen years of PLOS history, as told through our favorite OA Week memories

Open Access (OA) Week is a time that’s dear to our hearts at PLOS. PLOS is a proud co-founder of OA Week. Back in 2008, PLOS alumna Donna Okubo helped to organize an OA Day, together with representatives from SPARC and Students for Free Culture. Based on the success of that event, the group decided to expand OA Day to a full week the following year. OA Week is also an unofficial birthday of sorts, coinciding as it does with the first issues of our first journals: PLOS Biology in October 2003, and PLOS Medicine in October 2004 (plus PLOS NTDs in October 2007, and PLOS Global Public Health in October 2021).

The Open movement has grown and changed a lot over the past 14 years. Through it all PLOS has remained at the forefront of Open, exemplifying the themes of each celebration—almost like they were tailor-made, just for us. Let’s take a look back at highlights from those past celebrations, and a look ahead at where we think the Open movement is headed next.

OA Week 2009

The first OA Week!

Following on the success of OA Day in 2008, in 2009 Open Access Directory, PLOS, SPARC, Students for Free Culture, eIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) and OASIS came together to organize the first ever OA Week! At the time, PLOS was just eight years old. PLOS ONE had just been honored with the ALPSP Publishing Innovation Award. PLOS Medicine had just published the PRISMA guidelines for reporting systematic reviews. Everyone still thought we were crazy.

OA Week 2012

The first OA Week with a theme—Open by Default

Skipping ahead a few years to 2012, Open Access was moving into the mainstream. PLOS ONE had published over 40,000 articles. Universities like Harvard, UCSF, the University of Oslo, and others implemented new Open Access recommendations and policies. The scientific publishing establishment of North America and Europe had begun to realize Open was here to stay, and new journals began to proliferate. Nature’s Scientific Reports turned a year old. PLOS alumni founded new OA journals eLife and PeerJ. At PLOS, though our Open Data policy was still almost two years away, our advocacy team was already out there advocating for the next phase of the Open movement: free and open data.

OA Week 2014

Theme—Generation Open

The 2014 theme, Generation Open, celebrated the rising enthusiasm for Open Access, and began to look ahead at what comes after simple “access.” For PLOS, the answer at that point was data. The PLOS Open Data Policy officially went into effect in March of 2014 requiring that all data underlying the conclusions in a research article be made publicly available upon publication, either as a Supporting Information (SI) file or in a data repository. The measure was designed to support reproducibility, demonstrate credibility, and enable future meta-analysis. This new policy signaled the beginning of PLOS’ shift in focus to Open Science. 

OA Week 2015

Theme—Open for Collaboration

Research is becoming increasingly cross-disciplinary and complex, and as a result, researchers are collaborating more—not in a traditional hierarchical lab structure, but as part of a team, with equal partners tackling different aspects of the work. In 2015, PLOS took two big steps to represent authorship in a way that more accurately reflects the realities of scholarly contributions: ORCID, a unique identifier which differentiate researchers from one another, and the CRediT taxonomy, which describes each authors’ contributions to the study in detail.

OA Week 2017

Theme—Open in Order To…

OA Week 2017 was all about how Openness supports and advances the goals and values of research—not just openness for the sake of openness. PLOS was ready to help facilitate, with options like direct transfers from bioRxiv to PLOS journal submission systems, hyperlinks from article methods sections to publicly post protocols on, the chance to publish sooner with uncorrected page proofs, and more.

OA Week 2019

Theme—Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge

2019 was the year of the reviewer at PLOS. We implemented optional, opt-in Published Peer Review History. In this model, reviews decide whether to sign reviews, while authors decide whether to publish their decision letters (including peer reviews) and author responses, resulting in four possible degrees of openness in peer review. We also enabled ORCID for peer reviewers, enabling reviewers to claim credit for review work with ease, and without disclosing their identities.

OA Week 2020 and 2021

Themes—Open with Purpose: Taking Action to Build Structural Equity and Inclusion and It Matters How We Open Knowledge: Building Structural Equity

Over the next few years, OA Week continued to focus its attention on equity in science and science communication. In 2020 PLOS made progress on both fronts, with the introduction of a new transgender author name change policy, and our public commitment to impliment DEI standards in the running of our journals. PLOS Global Public Health, our new journal founded on the principles of global inclusion, was warmly received. We also introduced a new non-APC publishing model option named and designed for Global Equity

Just a few weeks before OA Week 2021, PLOS won the ALPSP Award for Innovation in Publishing, for our Community Action Publishing Model—a funding model designed to eliminate author fees for Open Access journals and create a more equitable Open Access publication system. Also in 2021, PLOS introduced our Inclusion in Global Research Policy, developed in collaboration with researchers, and aimed at preventing practices known as “parachute” or “neo-colonial” research, in which scientists travel to conduct research in under-resourced communities, relying on local experts without acknowledging their contributions.

OA Week 2022 (We’re still at it!)

Theme—Open for Climate Justice

OA Week 2022 examines the climate crisis—an area that has been a particular concentration for PLOS over the past several years. In 2021 we announced that PLOS would be adding to its portfolio for the first time in over 10 years, with a special emphasis on environmental research. Earlier this year, three of our brand new journals—PLOS Sustainability and Transformation, PLOS Water, and PLOS Climate—proudly published their first articles. Each new publication is, of course, fully Open Access, fully machine readable, and supported by Open Data, with CRediT and ORCID integration. In addition, each author had access to Open Science tools like preprints, Published Peer Review History, and more.

Where is Open Science headed next?

We’d like more data. In particular, we’d like quantitative insight into the levels and trends in adoption of Open Science practices, the differences across fields and regions, the impact of the solutions we’ve created together with our communities, and the barriers to adoption. That’s why we’re implementing Open Science Indicators, in partnership with DataSeer.

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