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Public Library of Science
PLOS logo 2012.svg
Founded 2000/2003
Founder Patrick O. Brown and Michael Eisen
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Levi's Plaza
San Francisco, California
Publication types Academic journals
Nonfiction topics Science
Official website

PLOS (for Public Library of Science) is a nonprofit open access scientific publishing project aimed at creating a library of open access journals and other scientific literature under an open content license. It launched its first journal, PLOS Biology, in October 2003 and publishes seven journals, all peer reviewed, as of April 2012.[1] The organization is based in San Francisco, California, and has a European editorial office in Cambridge, England.


The Open Access logo.
The first video published alongside a PLOS article: a model of how the human transferrin receptor assists transferrin in releasing iron.[2]

The Public Library of Science began in 2000 with an online petition initiative by Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, formerly director of the National Institutes of Health and at that time director of Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center; Patrick O. Brown, a biochemist at Stanford University; and Michael Eisen, a computational biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.[3] The petition called for all scientists to pledge that from September 2001 they would discontinue submission of papers to journals that did not make the full text of their papers available to all, free and unfettered, either immediately or after a delay of no more than 6 months. Although tens of thousands signed the petition, most did not act upon its terms; and in August 2001, Brown and Eisen announced they would start their own non-profit publishing operation.[4] In December 2002, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded PLOS a $9 million grant, which it followed in May 2006 with a $1 million grant to help PLOS achieve financial sustainability and launch new free-access biomedical journals.[5]

The 2000/2001 petition also prompted action by established journals. Some, including BioMed Central journals, became open access journals, making the full text of papers freely available immediately upon publication. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and others became delayed open access journals, making articles freely available some months after publication. Many others continue to rely on self-archiving.

The PLOS organizers 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 officially launched its operation on 13 October 2003, with the publication of a peer-reviewed print and online scientific journal entitled PLOS Biology, and has since launched seven more peer-reviewed journals. One, PLOS Clinical Trials, has since been merged into PLOS ONE. Following the merger, the company started the PLOS Hub for Clinical Trials to collect journal articles published in any PLOS journal and relating to clinical trials.

The PLOS journals are what it describes as "open access content"; all content is published under the Creative Commons "attribution" license. The project states (quoting the Budapest Open Access Initiative) 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."

In 2011, the Public Library of Science became an official financial supporting organization of Healthcare Information For All by 2015,[6] a global initiative that advocates unrestricted access to medical knowledge, sponsoring the first HIFA2015 Webinar in 2012.[7]

In 2012 the organization quit using the stylization "PLoS" to identify itself and began using only "PLOS".[8]

In January 2013, PLOS confirmed [9] a partnership with figshare to make open science publishing more open.

In April 2013, PLOS announced their new initiative, the PLOS Text Mining Collection, to assist researchers in easily retrieving and extracting information from a digital text format.[10]

In December 2013, PLOS announced the publication of its 100,000th article.[11]

In December 2013, PLOS completed phase two [12] of their website redesign. The new landing page now enables visitors to navigate more quickly and easily to the information they need. The new design also includes a rotating carousel of PLOS’ most recent announcements, a news feed and a featured article from its suite of journals.

In December 2013, PLOS confirmed [13] that as of 1 January 2014, PLOS will be publishing new articles across all their Journals under the new [14] CC BY v4.0 Creative Commons license.

Business model[edit]

To fund the journals, PLOS charges a publication fee to be paid by the author or the author's employer or funder. 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. The Global Participation Initiative (GPI) was instituted in 2012, by which authors in group one countries are not charged a fee, and those in group two countries are given a fee reduction. (In all cases, decisions to publish are based solely on editorial criteria.) PLOS was launched with grants totaling US$13 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation.[15] PLOS confirmed in July 2011 that it no longer relies on subsidies from foundations and is covering its operational costs itself.[16] In September 2013, PLOS published their 2012-2013 Progress Update Report,[17] which confirmed total liabilities and net assets standing at $20,511,000. In September 2014, PLOS published their 2013-2014 Progress Update Report [18] confirming total liabilities and net assets standing at $31,829,000.


The initiatives of the Public Library of Science in the United States have initiated similar proposals in Europe, most notably the "Berlin Declaration" developed by the German Max Planck Society, which has also pledged grant support for author charges (see also the Budapest Open Access Initiative).



PLOS has its main headquarters in Suite 100 in the Koshland East Building in Levi's Plaza in San Francisco.[19] The company was previously located at 185 Berry Street.[20] In June 2010, PLOS announced that it was moving to a new location in order to accommodate its rapid growth. The move to the Koshland East Building went into effect on 21 June 2010.[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Journals". Retrieved 2012-04-17. 
  2. ^ Giannetti, A. M.; Snow, P. M.; Zak, O.; Björkman, P. J. (2003). "Mechanism for Multiple Ligand Recognition by the Human Transferrin Receptor". PLoS Biology 1 (3): e1. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0000051.  edit open access publication - free to read
  3. ^ "History". Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Brower, V. (2001). "Public library of science shifts gears: As scientific publishing boycott deadline approached, advocates of free scientific publishing announce that they will create their own online, free-access archive". EMBO Reports 2 (11): 972–973. doi:10.1093/embo-reports/kve239. PMC 1084138. PMID 11713184.  edit
  5. ^ "Public Library of Science to launch new free-access biomedical journals with $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation". Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. 17 December 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2014. 
  6. ^ "How organisations support HIFA2015". Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "HIFA2015 Webinars". Retrieved 22 July 2013. 
  8. ^ David Knutson (23 July 2012). "New PLOS look". PLOS BLOG. Public Library of Science. Archived from the original on 6 August 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012. 
  9. ^ "PLOS and figshare make open science publishing more open". Creative Commons. 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  10. ^ "PLOS Text Mining Collection". 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Celebrates Milestone". PLOS. 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ David KnutsonPosted: 10 December 2013 (2013-12-10). "PLOS Welcomes CC v4.0 Licenses | The Official PLOS Blog". Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  14. ^ "CC’s Next Generation Licenses — Welcome Version 4.0!". Creative Commons. 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  15. ^ Declan Butler (June 2006). "Open-access journal hits rocky times". Nature 441 (7096): 914. doi:10.1038/441914a. PMID 16791161. 
  16. ^ "2010 PLOS Progress Update | The Official PLOS Blog". 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2012-02-27. 
  17. ^ "announces its 2012-2013 Progress Update". PLOS. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2014-01-01.  [1][dead link]
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Contact". PLoS. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  20. ^ "Contact". Internet Archive Wayback Machine. PLoS. 2008-03-10. Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 
  21. ^ Allen, Liz (2010-06-16). "PLoS San Francisco office is moving | The Official PLOS Blog". PLOS. Retrieved 2012-03-04. 


External links[edit]