How does your field view PLoS ONE?

Dec 27 2014 Published by under PLoS ONE, Science Publication

Open Access dude Michael Eisen is discussing his favorite publishing outfit on the Twitts and the conversation landed on this question. Thought I'd ask you, Dear Reader.

The second part is, how could the image and reputation of PLoS ONE be improved in your subfield?

I see the pathway in my field to be via people who are seen as movers and shakers putting their respectable work there.

I don't know how to make that happen. Perhaps individual lobbying?

The youngster gunner types aren't going to want to risk it, of course. So we can't depend on them. Mid career plodders like myself publishing there is almost going to make things worse. I think the plan would have to be to personally target established, well-regarded oldsters.

60 responses so far

  • Nickwan says:

    My dept as a whole adores PLoS one. My dept is psychology and so IF 3 or better is seen as fantastic -- I've heard people rather submit to PLoS one than psych sci.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    The movers and shakers in my field are editors in the big journals of the field,with friends in the other journals. They don't want to go to PLOS and have to deal with an editor who is junior to them. So, to get these people to change, first they have to be editors for PLOS. Still, PLOS makes too many things transparent. I am not sure they can live with that.

  • Ben says:

    It varies from person to person, and I know some people have published work there that they are very proud of. However, my own feeling and I think most others in my comminites is that it is a place of last resort. Some prefer to put the manuscript in ArXiv, as it would establish precedence without preventing later publishing the work somewhere else.

    Publishing peer review with the manuscript would help, as would enforcing a minimum level of peer reviewer feedback. I have been put off PLoS One after (on a couple of occasions) after the second reviewer passed no comment at all for manuscripts which did not meet the clearly defined standard. Other papers I've reviewed there have been thoroughly reviewed by all parties- but without the reviewers responses you cannot see that.

    Making PLoS One more clearly separate from the other PLoS journals might help too. The choice between PLoS XY and PLoS One (impactful and sound vs sound) makes it feel more like the"official" second best option).

  • Bashir says:

    Moderately positive I would say. Frontiers might have a slightly better rep. I've seen plenty of papers there. This is for psych/cogneuro.

  • Odyssey says:

    My fields - biochem and biophysics - are becoming more accepting. Biochem perhaps more so than biophysics.

    Apparently some view it as a battlefield...

  • qaz says:

    On annual reports and in CVs, in my field and to my immediate (neuroscience) colleagues, PLoS ONE seems to count as yet-another-journal. A paper in it increases your paper count by 1. Certainly not something special.

    On the other hand, I've noticed that no one finds papers in PLoS ONE. "Did you see my paper on X? We put it in PLoS ONE, I'll send it to you." This is the real problem of the GlamourMagazines. Since more people read them, more people notice (and thus cite) them.

    There seem to be two issues - Does your paper get noticed, seen, and read (by whatever audience you are trying to target)? Does your paper get counted as special, yet-another-publication, or trash on your CV?

    PLoS ONE's unstructured list basically means that no one will find your paper unless they go looking for it. As I see it, this means that PLoS ONE will never be more than a dump journal. No matter who publishes there.

  • Odyssey says:

    I'd have to disagree qaz. Given how easy it is to search for relevant literature nowadays, in terms of being found it really doesn't matter where you publish. Those who rely solely on glammagz TOCs for keeping up with science are not scholars.

    I don't think people cite glammagz over PLOS One because they don't see the latter. They cite glammagz because they're GLAMmagz.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    In a recent discussion of promotion/tenure criteria, several people, including the department chair, specifically spoke highly of publishing in PLoS ONE (department is a mix of structural biology/biophysics, cell/molecular, and medicinal chemistry).

  • GM says:

    I view PLoS ONE positively, I admire the idea it's built on, I've published papers (n >1) there, and the process has been smooth, and unlike what I've experienced in much more glamorous journals, the reviews were actually helpful and improved the paper (which is very interesting and we can have an extended discussion of my ideas why that is, and is stark in contrast to what reviewers usually do - adding unnecessary fluff to papers that only slowed down their publication).

    However:

    1) I have been told that I should not publish any more papers there because I have too many OA papers in my CV. And I don't necessarily disagree with that view, given the realities of the academic world at the moment), but it actually lead to several papers not being published at all, because they were never going to clear the "impact" bar in a more traditional journal so it was decided not to work on them anymore. Which, of course, is pure insanity, but as I said, that's the world we live in.

    2) As it is currently structured, one can only realistically read papers there by finding them in PubMed search alerts, or by being given the link to the paper by someone else, and this is a huge problem. There isn't really much of a difference between PLoS ONE and the gazillion BMC journals, yet I regularly read the latter and I do have the feeling that papers there do have more impact on average (even if it's not reflected by the IFs - I suspect that comes down to PLoS ONE having more outlier papers that receive huge number of citations), while I am just not able to follow PLoS ONE. It's pretty much impossible to read the literature as it is, thus nobody has the time to read the whole PLoS ONE new content e-mail alert to find out the few papers that are relevant - it takes too long even with the existing subsection divisions (which are applied extremely broadly and are basically useless).

    The journal is basically in dire need of better structuring so that one can actually follow it.

    As far as eradicating the glam culture goes, this is actually an issue closely related to the "drinking from the firehose" aspect of the literature these days. I don't think it's so much the senior scientists who are blocking the transition as it is the people who hand out promotions and grants (I realize its often the same people, of course). I've had that discussion with a number of senior scientists playing the glam mag game and it's surprising how many actually agree that it's stupid, but everyone is forced to play it, because the people who make the important decisions determining the outcome of one's career usually have neither the time nor the expertise to actually read papers. So they need a quick proxy for quality and that's glam mags ans IFs. With the number of papers constantly going up and up, the demands on people's time constantly increasing, and with everyone's attention spans shortening further and further thanks to mobile communications, social media and other trends of the sort, I don't see that changing any time soon.

  • GM says:

    I'd have to disagree qaz. Given how easy it is to search for relevant literature nowadays, in terms of being found it really doesn't matter where you publish. Those who rely solely on glammagz TOCs for keeping up with science are not scholars.

    It doesn't really work that way - you can, of course, accuse me of not knowing how to search for things, but the facts remain: first, not everything relevant to what you do can be found with your usual search terms, and second, not everything you would want to read is even directly relevant to those search terms. Thus reading the TOCs of all the journals in your (defined as broadly as possible) field is vital.

    And PLoS ONE's TOC is a mess

  • E rook says:

    I think it is viewed positively in my field. There's so much incestuous publishing behavior in my sub field that going to plos one, where an academic editor's name will be associated with it, who has not been part of the local circle jerk for two decades is seen as better external validation of quality than publishing in the society journals where everyone is doing everyone a favor. I don't have a million dollar budget to get my stuff into teh glamourz (yet).

    On the other hand I have a (more techie than careerist) colleague who had a huge dataset and interesting story that could have gotten into a more visible journal ... didn't go through the extra work of figure-smithing, or painful (kill your baby and start over) rewriting, but thought it was easier to send the excel default graphs (and such) and slog-through-train-of thought-text to plos one. I nearly tore my hair out and offered to do the rewrite and figure-smithing even though I had nothing to do with the experiments or study design.

  • Neurograd says:

    I agree with bashir - for my field (motor system neuroscience) I've seen high profile groups publish there and some definitely solid work there. But maybe I'm biased because I plan to submit there soon ...

  • jmz4 says:

    It's pretty well regarded in terms of model organism genetics of aging (as is Plos Bio and Plos Genetics), which is one half of my field. In the neuro/alzheimer's crowd it's probably not as well regarded because its relatively easier to publish mouse and human work in the glam jams.
    Basically I think the regard for Plos journals is directly correlated with the the ease with which you can generate figures. I know computational people love open access, for this reason. They just want to get their stuff out. But when you spend 3 years breeding, aging, and dissecting mice, you need that paper to count big.

    I think it could be a more viable option if it became the place to publish short format brevia consisting of an interesting result or two and the requisite controls. I'd probably roll the dice on being the first to get my mouse phenotype/novel observation out there in the world, and slog through the mechanism to a midtier journal for the follow up. As opposed to submiting to CNS with the hot phenotype and some preliminaries of the mechanism, and then getting the mechanism elaborated during the review process in a shoddy way.

  • Bio Data Sci says:

    I wouldn't say it's highly regarded in my field (Bioinformatics), but it's also accepted as a legitimate landing spot. You wouldn't want all your papers to be published there, but 20-30% would be perfectly fine. I've been dealing with a 3-year cycle to try to get one of my postdoc papers in a GlamMag. Former advisor will never go for it (unless it takes another 2 years), but I am seeing the value of PLOS One-like journals more and more.

    DM, why would it not help the system for you to publish there? As long as it's good science and people will read it, it seems like a good thing, especially for your work that you want to get out quickly and avoid the possibility of it never being published.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    You people are kidding yourselves. Plos One is an embarrassment.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    I see no real difference in the quality of papers I happen across on PLoS ONE vs a whole host of respectable-enough journals in my field N-c. Given that it would be pure ignorant bigotry to view the PLoS ONE papers any differently.

  • zb says:

    The "big guy" excuse is that the junior folks who did the work need to publish in the glamor rags.

    I see plod as being on par with a lot of the mid tier journals. In psych/perception/learning seems like a lot of stuff is going there, or other open access journals. In neurophys, folks still seem to be spending the years+ time to get into the big five.

    I think the concept of using the journal as a stand in for importance quality is decreasing among practicing scientists in their own sub field. But, granting agencies, hiring committees are still looking to there to judge the quality of the work.

  • E rook says:

    Zb- the thing is, though, that granting agencies and hiring committees are what matter more than any thing else as far as what we should be doing (to keep the lights on). They get what they want or we go home. If neuro-conservative were on a study section reviewing my grants, I'd never publish again in plos one. Does it matter that I disagree? As much as it matters that an elephants can hear a mouse squeak.

  • "Mid career plodders like myself publishing there is almost going to make things worse" BS. Lead by example

  • qaz says:

    @Odyssey - the issue isn't whether they find it if they are looking for it; the issue is whether they find it anyway, even if they don't know who you are. In order for them to go looking for it, they need to know that you published that paper on the mechanics of running tigers not just the dozen papers on bunny hopping, so that they remember when they are filling out their citation lists on running lions that they should cite that running tiger paper. This gets particularly important when you are crossing fields, say a paper on the clinical implications of running tigers on artificial legs in war vets. No one in the artificial legs field knows you from Adam, even if your work is the key to their questions.

    And I agree with DM - when I have found papers in PLoS ONE (say from a pubmed search or from following a citation or however), they've been as good as any paper in my field. I see little evidence that there is a strong hierarchy of paper quality across journals. My observations suggest that the hierarchy is one of zeitgeist and "coolness" rather than one of quality. (In fact, a lot of what I find in PLoS ONE in my field are rejected N-S papers. That's why we call it a dump journal.) Nevertheless, I would bet that publishing in PLoS ONE implies a hit on one's h-index.

    But, I stand by my statement that people see GlamourMags. People in my field (and my adjacent fields) still actually look at the title lists of the GlamourMags. And that means that they see stuff that is outside their friends-list. People simply don't go looking in PLoS ONE for relevant papers.

    An interesting question is whether in the current era people read the title lists of society journals (like J Neurophysiology), making those society journals more important than PLoS ONE, or whether it's GlamourMags and then everything else. I don't feel that I have a good handle on that question.

    [yes, we could move to other models of scholarship processes - I personally like the Frontiers model of many fields and moving up into broader fields, but I could imagine other ones like the Faculty of 1000 model of post-publication collections, or other such. But that's not the question here. The question was how people see PLoS ONE, to which it seems +1 paper that no one will find.]

  • rxnm says:

    It is seen as legit for sure, but often (I think) people assume there is a reason it is there-- rejection at a tier 2 journal, need for speed, partially or completely scooped. I don't think this is true for all fields.

    Despite it's PR, per review at P1 is really no different from anywhere else in the IF3-6 range and everyone knows it by now except for the extremely out of touch or the extremely douchey.

    I do not know how it is viewed internally in my department, at university-wide P&T, or by the grant reviewers relevant to my career. I do know that glam is valued in these contexts.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    There are still a lot of extremely out of touch scientists then, rxnm.

    I do think the PR factor is significant...people just don't think about it beyond what some bloviating BigCheese just said in (uninformed) dismissal.

  • Philapodia says:

    "It is seen as legit for sure, but often (I think) people assume there is a reason it is there-- rejection at a tier 2 journal, need for speed, partially or completely scooped. I don't think this is true for all fields."

    If the data is good and it moves science forward somehow, why should anyone care where the paper was published. Using journal title as a surrogate for quality is lazy.

    I've published (and reviewed for) PLoS One several times and have never had issues with my PTR committee or my field about it. I like PLoS One because they specifically tell reviewers that significance isn't necessary, just that the data is good and well presented. There are a lot of experiments that could be useful but aren't currently sexy, so PLoS One provides a way to get things published that wouldn't because they aren't currently cool enough for the "better" journals.

    Oh, and Qaz, I've had big-wigs in my field contact me about some of my PLoS One papers, so the idea that people don't look at PLoS One for relevant papers is perhaps not correct.

  • MoBio says:

    A couple of additional thoughts:

    1. P+1 is an interesting experiment for which the results are not entirely clear. The fact that publishing a paper in P+1 costs $ ($1350/paper according to their webs site) is probably both a positive and a negative.

    2. For a trainee/PI publishing in P+1 (at least in my field) is of no value for getting a job, grant or a fellowship.

    3. From a scientific impact perspective, papers in P+1 may ultimately have impact--note Ed Boyden's paper with >300 citations; this may (likely may not) be noted by P&T committees and grant reviewers (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0000299#pone-0000299-g007). Thus some papers in P+1 may certainly advance science (that's why we're all here--right?)...

    4. "I do not know how it is viewed internally in my department, at university-wide P&T, or by the grant reviewers relevant to my career. I do know that glam is valued in these contexts."

    My experience: PLOS ONE has "neutral" impact--that is neither negative nor positive with caveats.

    Main caveat: if the only papers are P+1 that is not likely to generate enthusiasm--enthusiasm being needed for promotion, tenure and positive grant reviews.

    At P&T committees (as well as search committees) I've never seen P+1 papers mentioned at all except in the rare circumstance where that was one of the only papers published over a significant time period.

    On grant reviews I've heard them mentioned only in a negative sense --again from the perspective of 'little progress'. When someone has significant progress, P+1 not mentioned at all.

  • K99er says:

    I just polled my partner, his twin brother, and his sister in-law. We are all youngish PhD scientists ages 30-35 working at top institutions, all in different fields (neuroscience, immunology, cancer biology, and chemical biology/drug discovery). The sentiment was unanimous that the papers there are not necessarily bad, but it's not a place for publishing your exciting or best work. It's a place for publishing work that was scooped, work that is a repetition or slight variation from something already published, a story that just isn't surprising or highly novel, or data that don't give a black/white, yes/no answer. Basically we all viewed it as a publication venue of last resort when you still want to get your work into a journal that will be at least indexed on pubmed.

    From my personal experience, my department chair and departmental P&T committee don't view PLOS One papers as "real" papers. You don't need to have significance or novelty to publish there so it is assumed that your paper lacks these things.

  • Philapodia says:

    "the issue isn't whether they find it if they are looking for it; the issue is whether they find it anyway, even if they don't know who you are. In order for them to go looking for it, they need to know that you published that paper on the mechanics of running tigers not just the dozen papers on bunny hopping, so that they remember when they are filling out their citation lists on running lions that they should cite that running tiger paper. "

    All they have to do is sign up for "My NCBI" or some other service and they'll see the paper even if they're not looking for it. I get a nice list of all papers that are related or quasi-related to my field every morning to look through while drinking my bloody mary. Most are irrelevant to my direct interests, but some are papers I wasn't looking for but are interesting in ways I hadn't considered before. Ain't technology wonderful!

    We had a society-level paper hit pubmed last week, and I got an e-mail from a BSD in my field 30 minutes after the days "My NCBI" e-mail came out asking if I wanted to collaborate on some experiments related to the paper.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    K99er. I know it's not you, but that last statement is funny. You also don't need figures or tables in a paper. You are not required to have co-authors, and you are not required to have been married. So, I will assume the paper has no figures or tables, that you are the only author and that you are single. It baffles me how unscientific the science crowd can be when evaluating itself.

  • qaz says:

    @Philapodia - yes, and if they were real scholars they would have a few hundred journals in their RSS feeds as well and would read a paper a day. And they would make the effort to find the "literature" (Hi, DM!) and cite everyone relevant. But they don't.

    Part of the problem is that our whole system is predicated on influence (as measured by citations and recognition), which means that other people have to find (and hopefully cite!) your work, which depends on their (not my) method of finding papers.

    When the majority of a field is working with MyNCBI, I'll make that my target of communication.

  • Philapodia says:

    Well shitte. I only have a dozen or two papers in my "MyNCBI" list every day and try to read a paper when I can find the time. I must not be a real scholar. Maybe I should take up truck driving instead of doing science...

    These caricatures of what "real scholars" are always amuse me.

  • Dave says:

    Most people I interact with in my field (mostly physiology, plenty of molecular biology) consider it a dump journal. There is nothing wrong with that, and it certainly is better than a lot of sub-sub-journals, but it is what it is. At my stage of my career, I would consider it a disaster to publish a major piece of work in P1 (<- I know that mindset is 'wrong', and I wish it were different, but it's not). If OA is your thing, there are a lot of VERY good OA journals to choose from, some of which are in the PLoS family.

  • liz says:

    respectable, but still a dump journal. former PI is a mover/shaker in the sub-field, and last year when I mentioned that I often forget whether Plos One or Biology was the selective one, he responded to think of it as Plos One-Out-of-Ten

  • Mike says:

    A restaurant critic in my neck of the woods used to pen certain reviews - "I have dined in that restaurant twice, for the first and the last time". So, I have published in PLoS ONE twice, for the first and the last time. The editorial and review process on our manuscript was suboptimal, to say the least. Moreover it s very clearly viewed as a "dump journal" in my subfield, and does one no good in grant reviews or promotion and tenure processes.

    If seeking to publish open access in the neurosciences, eNeuro will be my venue of choice for the foreseeable future.

  • mfade says:

    I am a nit surprised by the controversy over PLOS One - perhaps because my lab is at a mid-level RU in a not-so-hot field, where most people aim for publishing in high-level society journals (not N/S/C) for their better papers. There is no stigma against PLOS here, as far as tenure and promotion are concerned. The cost of publishing in PLOS is close to the cost of publishing in many other journals in my field, especially since we almost always have to pay for color figures (my favorite society-level journal charged us about $1400 for one paper, or I could pay $300 per year in membership fees to in the hope that at some point, I will get to publish another paper without paying color figure charges.

    I have reviewed for PLOS One, and I like not having to evaluate the "significance". Sometimes I like Joe Friday's approach to scientific discovery - "Just the facts, Mam", and PLOS One is a good outlet for interesting findings of unknown significance.

  • mfade says:

    I am a bit surprised by the controversy over PLOS One - perhaps because my lab is at a mid-level RU in a not-so-hot field, where most people aim for publishing in high-level society journals (not N/S/C) for their better papers. There is no stigma against PLOS here, as far as tenure and promotion are concerned. The cost of publishing in PLOS is close to the cost of publishing in many other journals in my field, especially since we almost always have to pay for color figures (my favorite society-level journal charged us about $1400 for one paper, or I could pay $300 per year in membership fees to in the hope that at some point, I will get to publish another paper without paying color figure charges.

    I have reviewed for PLOS One, and I like not having to evaluate the "significance". Sometimes I like Joe Friday's approach to scientific discovery - "Just the facts, Mam", and PLOS One is a good outlet for interesting findings of unknown significance.

  • Josh VW says:

    I'm in physical chemistry, and PLOS One is essentially nonexistent for us. No one I've ever worked with has published there and I've never seen it on the pubs list of my peers (i.e. when I look to see what they've published lately). The only mention of it I've heard was when a colleague who had reviewed a tenure packet said "those three PLOS papers added up to about one J Phys Chem paper (from actually reading them and seeing a lack of content, not just prejudice)"

  • AcademicLurker says:

    PLoS is very bio-oriented in general, so I'm not surprised that chemists don't pay it much attention.

  • AnotherScientist says:

    I think an equally important question is how the other PLOS journals (PLOS Biology, PLOS Genetics, etc.) stack up. It might be a tough sell to have researchers put their "best" work in PLOS One, but are the other PLOS journals an alternative to journals in the CNS brand?

    If PLOS Genetics can compete with Nature Genetics (and eLife with Nature?), then the move to OA becomes a lot easier.

  • MFade says:

    I am surprised this is even an issue - I am in a biology (lab-oriented) field, and PLOS One is viewed the same as any other journal. Just as good for promotion and tenure at our institution. The cost of publication is similar to that in many society-level journals (we have lots of color figures, so that makes publication in most journals expensive). I have reviewed for PLOS One, some papers were great (and the authors have made serious efforts to improve and re-do experiments based on the reviews), some were so-so and more of a "dump pub". I read and reference papers in PLOS journals regularly if they are relevant to my work.

  • jojo says:

    In my immediate evo-eco circle (I'm just a poor postdoc so I don't really know what "the field" thinks), PLoS One is half joke half serious.

    Everyone jokes about how it's a dump journal and everyone comments on the fact that the papers there are half poorly-proofread junk.

    But then jokes aside, every lab turns around and publishes 2+ papers there a year anyway...

  • MF says:

    I have reviewed for PLOS One and seen some authors who took reviewer comments very seriously and did a great job re-doing experiments or making re-writes. I have also seen not-so-great author and editor work (basically ignoring the reviewers' criticisms. All in all, I don't think it is any different from other mid-level journals and is viewed the same by our T and P committee. The cost of publication is about the same as society-level journals since we have lots of color figures that we have to pay for in most cases.

  • Mike says:

    A restaurant critic in my neck of the woods used to start certain reviews with the statement -"I have dined in this restaurant twice, for the first and the last time". In a similar vein, I have published in PLoS ONE twice, for the first and the last time. Apart from the suboptimal (to say the least) editorial handling and review process in our case, most people in my subfield do not view it as a quality publication venue (again, putting it mildly).

    If you are looking for a high quality venue for open access publishing in neuroscience, please consider eNeuro (http://eneuro.org/)

  • Ola says:

    I'm with Dave, PLoS is not the place you want your best work to go. For an up-and-coming grad student, 1st or 2nd paper, it's OK, but for a post-doc' lead author opus that's gonna get them their next job, er no. Case in point - faculty search committee I was on just rejected 100+ CVs due to lack of "high impact publications" (and we all know what that means, cough cough).

    What also surprises me more than the disdain for PLoS, is how many quite respectable journals have middling impact factors. These same faculty search committees who would kill a CV on the basis of a PLoS paper would not dare look at a string of JBC papers and say "not high impact" - JBC and a couple of others seem able to hold a certain amount of swagger despite their dismal and ever declining impact factor. Same for some of the Am J Physiol variants and a few other society pubs in the 4-6 range.

  • Dave says:

    AJP Endo has always had a solid reputation, regardless of its IF. It's not easy to get in to. In light of its bluster and prestige, PNAS has a low IF also. JBC has been going down the toilet for many years now, and it just seems that quality control has declined there.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    JIF is not the be all / end all for journal reputation eh? And this is somehow a bad thing? How so?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    For the psych folks- I have been surprised that the neuro folks didn't have quite such the same realization when the PLoS One JIF was 4+. There are tons of neuro journals below this in JIF so you'd think the switch would have flipped.

    It'll be interesting to see if the psych authors abandon ship as the PLoS One JIF keeps sinking.

  • Established PI says:

    In my area, PLos One is a legitimate but relatively low-tier journal where one publishes solid stories that never quite went anywhere, or projects that were (or are about to get) scooped and can't get into higher-ranked journals that set some sort of bar for significance. It counts on your pub list and is not a negative, although a string of PLoS One papers won't get your promoted. Pubs in no-name journals with questionable publishing practices, no real editor, etc. can be a real negative.

    I have not experienced the obsession with JIF that appears in this thread, but rather have seen a more fuzzy perception of journal rank that tends to be somewhat field-specific. JIF has never been mentioned in any hiring or promotion discussion I have been part of, and I had thought that treating this as some sort of precise metric was more prevalent outside the U.S. Sorry to see it here. At the same time, the obsession with glamour pubs (the "single word journals") is, alas, alive and well at my institution. We all complain, but nobody seems to have a prescription for getting out from under the yoke of the non-practicing scientist professional editors to which we have handed immense power over hiring and promotion.

  • Dave says:

    What Ola was saying is that the JIF is sometimes spectacularly out of whack when compared to a journals real or perceived quality. JBC is probably the poster child of this on the low end, and there are plenty of examples at the high end. Nobody is saying that's 'good' or 'bad'. We are not CNN here; not everything has to either good or bad. It just exists.

  • Established PI says:

    Dave - yes, I am well aware of JIF-reality disconnect. The classic (to me) was the stratospheric JIF for Acta Crystallographica A (59.9) due to a single highly-cited methods paper. Overall it is disheartening to see this deeply flawed index part of any serious discussion of where to publish.

  • toto says:

    PLoS ONE is as a dump journal. The reason why it's a dump journal is that it positions itself as a dump journal.

    "We'll publish anything that's technically correct, and we'll explicitly prevent reviewers from considering such trifling matters as relevance or interest." Oh well, OK then.

    I have reviewed a paper for PLoS ONE. The paper was meh (essentially zero interest, IMO) but was technically correct, so I greenlighted it after minor corrections. If it had been for J Neurosci I would have strongly questioned publication.

    Note that the above is only for PLoS ONE, not at all for the other PLoS publications. In particular, PLoS Comp Biol is a great journal, miles ahead from P1 in "prestige" despite the relatively similar IF (~5).

  • Philapodia says:

    Osamu Shimomura won a Nobel Prize for his work published in the Journal of Cellular and Comparative Physiology. I don't know how well regarded it was then, but it's got a 3.8 IF now. Goes to show you that important stuff doesn't only come from glam humping. Also, who of us would have given a rats ass about jelly fish in 1962 or understood it's significance, it would have also seemed meh to most of us.

    If it's new information and it's well done, who gives a flying fucke what journal it's in. Someone will easily find it due to the interwebs and find a way to use that new information in surprising ways. Dump away if you ask me!

  • dougal says:

    Plos one is just another journal. It gets a bad rap because it will publish anything and I know many editors who are frustrated that a significant amount of work that is more than likely fraudulent is getting published.

    With that said, in principle, I like the idea of Plos One. Publish everything as long as it is technically sound and let the community decide.

    My personal opinion is that there is only one journal now anyway, it is called pubmed.

  • @toto, ola
    But how is "prestige" of a journal measured if not by impact factor? I'm not a big fan of impact factor wankery, but that's because I think papers should be judged on their own merits rather than that of their journal, but if people think a journal is "prestigious" and yet basically nobody cites the papers there, what possible meaning can "prestige" have?

  • qaz says:

    There is no reason to assume that short term impact (citation count, JIF, etc) will track to long term impact. (It might or might not, I don't know. I suspect that it is imperfectly correlated.) The problem is that most rewards (promotion, tenure, a job, a grant) cannot wait on long term impact measurements (some of which are only known 30 years later, which can even be post-mortem). So we need a system to measure short term impact with the hope of marking those who will provide long term impact.

    The old system used to be a combination of old-boy (mostly-boys) networking, family lineage (see NeuroTree), and publication in a few marked journals (GlamourMagz). In an attempt to get around the inevitable biases of culture, gender, race, etc that arise within such a personal system, people have been trying to identify more quantitative measures (JIF of the journal a paper just got published in - the paper has no cites, but the journal does [with a few specialized marks for journals in a field that outperform their JIF], number of cites a PI has [possibly normalized such as in h-index], and other things like that).

    Those quantitative measures are game-able and imperfect. The question is whether they are more imperfect than the old-boy/lineage network that preceded it.

  • rxnm says:

    "Dump" is relative. There is a cohort for whom Neuron and PNAS are dump journals because the editors are their former postdocs (former) or that is the historical purpose of the journal (latter). So when I see BSD X has a paper in Neuron, I know that is probably Frontiers in Bunny Hopping level stuff for us hoi polloi. When someone in my field who is junior or otherwise obscure publishes in Neuron, you know they had to fight for it and it's probably a major story from their lab.

    I don't think this is news to anyone...evaluating the publication venue of anything (besides being unnecessary) requires that you be aware of multiple quantitative and qualitative variables regarding journals, people, and your field. None of which has anything to do with whether or not it's worth your time to actually read.

    Administrative bean counters and their metricizing enablers are leading us away from scientific judgement and toward a dystopian pseudoquantacracy ruled by the McNamara Fallacy. My goal is to get tenure before we're all the way there.

  • Philapodia says:

    I like the phrase "dystopian pseudoquantacracy". I'll have find a way to slip it into my holiday letter next year.

  • dsks says:

    Qaz said,
    "...people have been trying to identify more quantitative measures (JIF of the journal a paper just got published in - the paper has no cites, but the journal does [with a few specialized marks for journals in a field that outperform their JIF], number of cites a PI has [possibly normalized such as in h-index], and other things like that)."

    Bored, it's New Years day, and Pymol is *%#@ing with me again... so I just procrastinated for half an hr assessing a new and potentially valuable metric I shall call, Impact Under-appreciation Factor (IUP).

    Basically, you tally up your avg citations per paper per year and divide that by the 5-yr Impact factor of the journal they were published in, and then take the mean of all those values.

    IUP 1 = People are clearly too blind, stupid and/or jealous to fully appreciate your stellar awesomeness. And handsomeness.

  • dsks says:

    ahem... html fail... correction:

    IUP less than 1 = You're all hat and no cattle, cowboy

    IUP about 1 = It's not the third reviewer, d00d, it's just you

    IUP greater than 1 = People are clearly too blind, stupid and/or jealous to fully appreciate your stellar awesomeness. And handsomeness.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Totally agree dsks, although I suggest expressing it as a z-score.

  • quax says:

    If they keep publishing nonsense like this the PLOS ONE reputation in physics will diminish quickly. The author of this paper clearly doesn't understand general nor special relativity. Hard to see how this paper could have been subjected to any review whatsoever.

  • Al says:

    I heard about PlosOne recently, I'm in earth sciences field (seismology, geodesy) and I wonder how popular is this publishing in this field ? I

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