Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Ida": a new triump for PLoS ONE

In case you have not used the search engine "Google" today, I would just like to highlight that the image of today refers to an article published in PLoS ONE, about a 47 million-year old primate female specimen with the nickname "Ida". This article has created a large "buzz" in the bloggosphere and media, with over 700 links detected by Google News within 24 hours of the publication release!

It is another major publication and media triumph for PLoS ONE, as this remarkable paper would perhaps only a few years ago have been published in Nature or Science. These traditional, non-OA journals, now probably have to worry somewhat about their future as the PLoS-group is emerging more and more as a serious competitor when it comes to public outreach and news coverage. This is partly due to the advantage of the OA-format in general, although not the entire story. The PLoS staff are obviously very professional when it comes to media coverage and outreach, and almost every week there is one or several PLoS ONE articles that hit the news headlines and attract the attention of the mighty bloggosphere.

It is particularly interesting that it is the paleontologists who have taken PLoS ONE to their hearts, while ecologists and evolutionary biologists are extremely conservative and traditional, even hostile or suspicious in many cases (in my experience) towards this new journal. It is an interesting research question for a sociologist of science to find out this major difference in attitude between the paleontological and the ecological/evolutionary research communities. Perhaps it is because there are many more competing and good journals in ecology and evolutionary biology, compared to paleontology? Here you can read a short interview with the authors of this fossil-paper where they explain why they decided to publish their work in PLoS ONE, rather than a more traditional scientific journal.



  1. That is great. The main applause should be held for the authors and their high moral standing. The comments about public funding and making it accessible to them were particularly heart warming.
    Although you do wonder why they picked plos one over plos biology (which already has a high IF, is open access etc..)

  2. One major reason to pick PLoS ONE, over PLoS Biology, is the lack of length restriction in the latter. This fits paleontologists, who often have a lot of colour pictures and detailed anatomical data. They mention that in their interview as one major incentive for publishing in PLoS ONE.