Publication deadlines at PLOS ONE – and our plans to improve them

PLOS ONE is a great newspaper. A very, very, very big newspaper. We receive around 100 submissions every day and publish over a thousand articles per month in over 200 disciplines. This work is supported by a board of nearly 10,000 academic editors and tens of thousands of peer reviewers. They work alongside the journal’s editorial team to ensure that everything we publish meets our publication criteria and that we publish all rigorous research and research methodologies that contribute to scholarly knowledge.

But PLOS ONEThe large size of leads to a specific set of challenges. Chief among them is how we adapt to deal with changes in the volume of submissions. Over the past two years, we have been fortunate to receive a high and sustained volume of submissions from researchers wishing to publish with us. However, this influx of submissions has exceeded the capacity of our Board of Directors – many of whom are no doubt exhausted from two years of pandemic-related stress – and resulted in longer review and publication times.

I want to openly acknowledge that these longer delays do not reflect the standard of service we aim to provide to researchers. We exist solely to serve the needs of the research community and know how important timing can be to our community. To all the authors who have been disappointed with their experience with PLOS ONE: I’m sorry. We can and will do better.

We respond in four ways:

Editorial Board Audit

The PLOS Editorial Board Services team conducted an editorial board audit and recruited new academic writers in areas that have been particularly affected by high volumes of submissions. We recently recruited over 600 new academic writers and plan to recruit several hundred more by the end of the year. This recruitment drive will not only help us fill gaps in council coverage, but will also ensure that our council’s academic writers receive a sustainable number of submissions to process.

Workflow review

We review our workflows to ensure they are as efficient as possible. Saving a few minutes of processing time per manuscript might not seem like a major accomplishment in isolation, but given the size of the journal, it quickly multiplies into a significant time saving, benefiting authors and academic editors alike. .

Improve contributor correspondence

We are also reviewing our contributor correspondence infrastructure to ensure that author queries are received by the appropriate journal staff who can provide the most useful answers, more quickly.

Better matching of new submissions

Finally, we are testing an improved algorithm that matches new submissions with potential academic publishers to ensure that all articles submitted to the journal are picked up by an academic publisher as soon as possible. Better matching also allows journal staff managing this process to focus on supporting our academic editors in other ways – for example, helping to resolve questions about the review process or ensuring that new academic writers have all the tools and training they need to revise a manuscript. This in turn helps to ensure that authors, reviewers and academic editors all receive excellent service from PLOS ONE.

With these changes in place, authors should soon begin to notice improved review and publication times.

It has been extremely gratifying to see so many articles submitted to PLOS ONE by authors who appreciate open science. We will continue to improve our processes to ensure we provide timely and robust review and publication of all rigorous research and research methods that PLOS ONE became famous for. I look forward to sharing news of our progress with our community.

Jacob L. Thornton