Are mega-journals a publication outlet for lower quality research? A bibliometric analysis of Spanish authors in PLOS ONE | Emerald Insight

Abstract:  Purpose

Open-access mega-journals (OAMJs), which apply a peer-review policy based solely on scientific soundness, elicit opposing views. Sceptical authors believe that OAMJs are simply an easy target to publish uninteresting papers that would not be accepted in more selective traditional journals. The purpose of this paper is to investigate any differences in scholars’ considerations of OAMJs by analysing the productivity and impact of Spanish authors in Biology and Medicine who publish in PLOS ONE.


Scopus was used to identify the most prolific Spanish authors in Biology and Medicine between 2013 and 2017 and to determine their publication patterns in PLOS ONE. Any differences in terms of citation impact between Spanish authors who publish frequently in PLOS ONE and the global Spanish output in Biology and Medicine were measured.


Results show a moderate correlation between the total number of articles published by prolific authors in Biology and Medicine and the number of articles they publish in PLOS ONE. Authors who publish frequently in PLOS ONE tend to publish more frequently than average in Quartile 1 and Top 10 per cent impact journals and their articles are more frequently cited than average too, suggesting that they do not submit to PLOS ONE for the purpose of gaining easier publication in a high-impact journal.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to one country, one OAMJ and one discipline and does not investigate whether authors select PLOS ONE for what they might regard as their lower quality research.


Very few studies have empirically addressed the implications of the soundness-based peer-review policy applied by OAMJs.

Submit your Lab and Study Protocols to PLOS ONE! – The Official PLOS Blog

“PLOS ONE’s array of publication options that push the boundaries of Open Science continues to expand. We’re happy to announce two new article types that improve reproducibility and transparency, and allow researchers to receive credit for their contributions to study design: Lab Protocols and Study Protocols. 

These new article types complement other Open Science developments at PLOS ONE, such as Registered Reports, and support PLOS’ mission to accelerate progress in science and medicine. Adding reliable and accessible methods that can be built upon to the scientific record, Lab and Study Protocols support robust, reproducible science.  As reproducible science helps accelerate discoveries, such contributions deserve notice. …”

Speeding up the publication process at PLOS ONE | EveryONE: The PLOS ONE blog

At PLOS ONE we like to speed up the publication process wherever we can. We like science to be out in the open, and publication of peer-reviewed research to take place without undue delays, so that others can use and build upon the findings. Aligned with our founding mission, we aim to be as fast as we can while remaining true to our publication criteria and without compromising the quality of the peer review process. To ensure common editorial standards across the journal we have also increased desk rejects of submission that fail our editorial criteria. This rate now stands at around 23%.


In the past few months we have seen a few exciting improvements in the speed of manuscript handling at PLOS ONE. During April our median time to first editorial decision after peer review dropped to 42 days. It was at 53 days a year ago. And our median time from submission to publication online has also dropped to 165 days in April, coming down from 183 days earlier in 2018. This means that manuscripts that we publish move now 18 days faster through the full peer review process than a year ago, and the first decision after peer review is reached 11 days earlier. A more comprehensive list of long-term metrics is appended below and on our web page. We are very grateful to the members of our Editorial Board and our reviewers that have facilitated a fast peer review at the journal….”

Peer-reviewed physics for Wikipedia: PLOS ONE Topic Pages | EveryONE: The PLOS ONE blog

“Despite Wikipedia’s importance as a resource for both practicing physicists and the wider community, it is rare for professional physicists to contribute, in part because there are few, if any, professional incentives to do so. We’re all in agreement that researchers should receive proper attribution for our work (which is why PLOS ONE supports ORCID); and as credit is not given for submitting or editing Wikipedia pages, only a small fraction of the physicists that I asked about this have edited even a single Wikipedia page.

With this in mind, we’re excited to introduce PLOS ONE Topic Pages, which are peer-reviewed review articles written with Wikipedia in mind. These provide opportunities for author attribution and will result in both journal articles and Wikipedia pages of high quality and utility….”

The PACE PLOS One data will not be released and the article won’t be retracted – Mind the Brain

“Two years have passed since I requested release of the PLOS One PACE data, eight months since the Expression of Concern was posted. What can we expect?…

The PLOS One Senior Editors completed the pre-specified process of deciding what to do about the data not being shared.  They took no action. …

International trends will continue toward making uploading data into publicly accessible repositories a requirement for publication. PLOS One has slowed down by buying into discredited arguments about patient consent forms not allowing sharing of anonymized data….”

How a sustained misinformation campaign by publishers attacked @PLOSONE’s rigorous peer review

“I know first-hand just how thorough peer review is at PLOS ONE as I published one paper there and had another rejected because of flaws that we initially missed. Some scientists even complain that PLOS ONE actually rejects too much.

How much to reject is a tricky balancing act for a megajournal. Accept too much, and you are a “dumping ground”; reject too much and you’re an ‘evil gate-keeper’. The solution seems to be precisely what PLOS ONE does – aim for rigorous peer review and publish works that pass it. A week ago, Editor-in-Chief Joerg Heber told me that PLOS ONE publishes 50% of the submitted manuscripts….”

Interview with PLOS ONE Academic Editor- Dee Carter | EveryONE

Dee Carter‘s lab at the University of Sydney, Australia focuses on eukaryotic microorganisms, in particular disease-causing pathogens. Since these organisms are more closely related to humans than bacteria or viruses for instance, it is challenging to find treatments that don’t damage the host at the same time. Her research revolves around understanding pathogen diversity using population and evolutionary genetic analysis, and on understanding cellular responses to toxins and stresses using transcriptomic and proteomic approaches. Dee graduated from the University of Otago, New Zealand, with a BSc and undertook her PhD at Imperial College London, UK, where she worked on the plant pathogen Phytophtohora infestans. She then did postdocs at the Faculte de Medicine de Montpellier, France and in the US at Roche Molecular Systems, Alameda, California and the University of Berkeley, under the combined mentorship of Dr Thomas White and Professsor John Taylor. She has been at the University of Sydney since 1995. Dee joined the PLOS ONE Editorial Board as Academic Editor at the launch of the journal in 2006.”

When ‘exciting’ trumps ‘honest’, traditional academic journals encourage bad science

“This seems like a big, abstract, hard-to-fix problem. But we actually have a solution right in front of us. All we have to do is continue changing the scientific publishing model so it no longer has anything to do with “interest” and is more open to publishing everything, as long as the methodology is sound. Open Access journals like PLOS ONE already do this. They publish everything they receive that is methodologically sound, whether it is straightforward or messy, headline-grabbing or mind-numbingly boring. Extending this model to every academic journal would, at a stroke, remove the single biggest incentive for scientists to hide inconvenient results….”