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The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a nonprofit open access scientific publishing project aimed at creating a library of scientific journals and other scientific literature under an open content license. As of 2006 it publishes PLoS Biology, PLoS Medicine, PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics and PLoS Pathogens.

The Public Library of Science began in early 2001 as an online petition initiative by Patrick Brown, a biochemist at Stanford University and Michael Eisen, a computational biologist at the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The petition called for all scientists to pledge that from September of 2001 they would discontinue submission of papers to journals which did not make the full-text of their papers available to all, free and unfettered after a six-month period from publication. Some journals, notably the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the BioMed Central stable of journals (see below), conformed to these guidelines, but as of 2003 many journals, including the highly regarded journals Nature and Science, have focused instead on allowing authors to self-archive their original submission.

Joined by Nobel-prize winner and former NIH-director Harold Varmus, the PLoS organizers next turned their attention to starting their own journal, along the lines of the UK-based BioMed Central which has been publishing open-access scientific papers in the biological sciences in journals such as Genome Biology and the Journal of Biology since late 1999. As a publishing company, the Public Library of Science began full operation on October 13, 2003, with the publication of a peer reviewed print and online scientific journal, entitled PLoS Biology, and have since launched several more journals including, PLoS Medicine, PLoS Computational Biology, PLoS Genetics and PLoS Pathogens. The PLoS journals are what they describe as "open access content"; all content is published under the Creative Commons "by-attribution" license [1] (Lawrence Lessig, of Creative Commons is also a member of the Advisory Board). The project states that: "The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited".

To fund the journal, the publication's business model requires that, in most cases, authors will pay publication costs. In the United States, institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have pledged that recipients of their grants will be allocated funds to cover such author charges (see the "Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing"). The initiatives of the Public Library of Science in the United States has initiated similar proposals in Europe, most notably the "Berlin Declaration" developed by the German Max Planck Institute, which has also pledged grant support for author charges (see also the "Budapest Open Access Initiative"). One weakness of the 'author-pays' model pioneered by PLoS may be that it fails to recognise the high cost of filtering and evaluating the high number of submissions the high-impact journals receive - the vast bulk of which are necessarily rejected to maintain these high standards. As such, the jury is still out as to whether a publishing model based on author-pays will be sustainable in the longer term.

PLoS Medicine [2] was launched in October 2004; PLoS Computational Biology [3] in June 2005; PLoS Genetics [4] in July 2005; PLoS Pathogens [5] in September 2005. PLoS Clinical Trials [6] will be launched in Spring 2006.

See alsoEdit


  • Foster, Andrea L. "Scientists Plan 2 Online Journals to Make Articles Available Free." The Chronicle of Higher Education, 10 January 2003, A29.
  • Gallagher, Richard. "Will Walls Come Tumbling Down?" The Scientist 17, no. 5 (2003): 15.
  • Knight, Jonathan. "Journal Boycott Presses Demand for Free Access." Nature, 6 September 2001, 6.
  • Malakoff, David. "Opening the Books on Open Access." Science Magazine, 24 October 2003, 550-554.
  • Medeiros, Norm. "Of Budgets and Boycotts: The Battle over Open Access Publishing." OCLC Systems & Services 20, no. 1 (2004): 7-10.
  • Mellman, Ira. "Setting Logical Priorities: A Boycott Is Not the Best Route to Free Exchange of Scientific Information." Nature, 26 April 2001, 1026.
  • Olsen, Florence. "Scholars Urge Boycott of Journals That Won't Join Free Archives." The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 April 2001, A43.
  • Peek, Robin. "Can Science and Nature Be Trumped?" Information Today 20, no. 2 (2003): 19, 50-51.
  • ———. "The Future of the Public Library of Science." Information Today 19, no. 2 (2002): 28.
  • ———. "The Scholarly Publisher as Midwife." Information Today 18, no. 7 (2001): 32.
  • Russo, Eugene. "New Adventures in Science Publishing." The Scientist 15, no. 21 (2001): 12.
  • ———. "A Science Publishing Revolution." The Scientist 15, no. 8 (2001): 1.
  • Schubert, Charlotte. "PLoS Snaps Up Cell Editor." Nature Medicine 9, no. 2 (2003): 154-155.
  • Stankus, Tony. "The Public Library of Science Passes Its First Biology Test." Technicalities 23, no. 6 (2003): 4-5.
  • Twyman, Nick. "Launching PLoS Biology?Six Months in the Open." Serials 17, no. 2 (2004): 127-131.
  • Wadman, Meredith. "Publishers Challenged over Access to Papers." Nature, 29 March 2001, 502.

External linksEdit

ca:Public Library of Science es:Public Library of Science nl:Public Library of Science

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