Saturday, August 11, 2018

Joining the editorial board of PLOS ONE

I have joined the Editorial Board of PLOS ONE. There are a few things about PLOS ONE that particularly appeal to me:
  • Broad scope is great for interdisciplinary research. My own research is primarily driven by experimental psychology, neuroscience, and computer science, as well as linguistics and neuropsychology/neurology. Before writing a manuscript, I often have to decide whether I will be submitting it to a cognitive psychology journal or a clinically-oriented (neuropsychology or neurology) journal or a neuroscience journal. This decision is not always easy and it has a major impact on how the manuscript needs to be written and who will review it. Since the scope of PLOS ONE covers the full range of natural and social sciences as well as medical research, I (you) don't need to worry about that. Just clearly describe the motivation, methods, results, and conclusions of the study and trust that Editors like me will find appropriate reviewers.
  • Accepts various article types. In addition to standard research articles, PLOS ONE accepts systematic reviews, methods papers (including descriptions of software, databases, and other tools), qualitative research, and negative results. If your manuscript is reporting original research, then it is a viable submission.
  • Publication decisions based on scientific rigor, not perceived impact (see full Criteria for Publication). It is difficult to try to guess what kind of impact a paper will have on the field and unnecessary because the field can figure that out on its own. As a reviewer, I focus on scientific rigor and whether the methods and results align with the motivation and conclusion. It's nice that PLOS ONE has the same focus. This emphasis on technical and ethical standards also means that PLOS ONE can publish good replication studies and negative results, which is critical for reducing publication bias and moving our field forward.
  • Fast decision times. Editors are expected to make decisions within a few days and reviewers are asked to complete their reviews in 10 days. Of course, this is no guarantee that a manuscript will have a fast decision -- it can take a long time to find reviewers and reviewers do not always meet their deadlines. But I think giving reviewers 10 days instead of 4-6 weeks (typical for psychology journals) and expecting editors to make fast decisions is a step in the right direction.
  • Open access at reasonable cost. This is not the place to discuss the relative merits of the standard reader-pay publication model and the open access author-pay model used by PLOS ONE. Suffice it to say that I like the open access model and I appreciate that PLOS ONE is doing it at a cost ($1595 USD) that is on the low end compared to other established open access journals.