PLoS ONE is open

It is a bit late here in the UK for blogging but this can’t wait. PLoS ONE is now accepting submissions. The site is now updated with all the necessary ‘Guidelines for Authors‘, ‘Editorial Policiesetc. as well as links to our online submission system. There isn’t much else to say but for me to thank the web-designers who put the site together and welcome everyone to the next step in this exciting project.

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13 Responses to PLoS ONE is open

  1. Chris Surridge says:

    PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS ARE OUT OF DATE AS OF 3/3/09, NEW INFORMATION COMING SHORTLY

    First I’d better apologise for the confusion of having a BiBTex style sheet available when we don’t accept TeX/PDF submissions. That style sheet is really for use on the other PLoS journals which can handle TeX submissions, sort of. It is on the PLoS ONE Guidelines for Authors by mistake and I haven’t had a chance to edit it out yet.

    As to handling LaTeX/pdf submissions that is something we have been trying to resolve for months. I’d really like to find a way to be more friendly to the LaTeX-using community, but at this moment I just can’t.

    The plain fact is that the production system we are using can only accept Word and RTF files (and possibly Open Office documents although we have never had the opportunity to test this). I desperately would like to be able to accept LaTeX files but there is just no way to reliably process them to produce XML conforming to the DTD that we (and PubMed Central) use. LaTeX converters do exist but none that we have tried (and we have tried all the ones we know about) are sufficiently reliable. The big problem is with the equation handling which is of course what LaTeX does best.

    For PLoS ONE to function it is vital that manuscripts can be checked and signed off by authors before they enter the production process. The alternative is intensive manual subediting and proofing. That would make it impossible to scale the journal to high volumes, at least double the production time (although more likely the lack of an ability to scale would mean that backlogs would build up), and approximately double the cost to authors.

    The only work around that we can offer is to point authors in the direction of the best LaTex converters that we know about. They are pretty good but the resulting files need to be checked carefully especially the equations. We have been trying to put together some instructions for how to convert LaTeX to RTF and the current draft is attached below.

    LaTex Converters

    TeX2Word
    LaTeX2RTF
    TexConverter
    TexPort
    CambridgeDocs

    Before converting your paper to Word/RTF:

    Combine all sections of the file into a single file; do not submit separate .bbl or .bib files. (See BiBTeX instructions below.) Avoid use of personalized macros and shortcuts (e.g., \newcommand, \def). The TeX file must contain expanded versions of shortcuts and macros.
    Please comment out any graphics and table files (e.g., \includegraphics, \figbox); all images must be submitted as separate .eps or .tif files and all tables must be submitted as separate editable word or excel files.
    If you use BiBTeX:

    1. Run LaTeX on your LaTeX file.
    2. Run BiBTeX on your LaTeX file.
    3. Open the new .bbl file containing the reference list and copy all the contents into your LaTeX file after the acknowledgments section.
    4. Comment out the old \bibliographystyle and \bibliography commands. Run LaTeX on your new file before submitting.

    The best way to view equations will be to use MathType (not vital, just helpful). Anyone can download the free “trial” version at http://www.dessci.com/en/products/mathtype/trial.asp. Any equation editor can be used, however. As long as the equations open in Word, they should be okay.

    Once the file has been converted, please check the following:

    1. Please make sure that footnotes are incorporated into the text
    2. Check to see that references are complete and in order. References may have dropped out in the conversion if they were added later in your writing/editing process and not inserted correctly. Often the reference tag from the TeX file will remain at the end of each line as an artifact. All extraneous text should be deleted. It might look something like this:

      [45] Orr HA (2005) The Genetic Theory of Adaptation: A Brief History. Nature Reviews Genetics 6:119–127. orrNRG2005Key: orrNRG2005 Annotation

    3. Please check all numbered citations throughout the paper (including figures and tables).
    4. Figure captions need to be listed at the end of the paper. Check that they are there.
    5. Scan the paper for misspellings. The conversion often takes spaces out of the text so that two words are pushed together (ie, “about a” will become “abouta”). There shouldn’t be too many of these, and they should be relatively easy to find.
    6. Please check all special characters to make sure that these are appearing as they should. If you need to change any of the characters, you can use the “insert symbol” found in the “Insert” menu.
    7. Numbered equations (equations set apart from paragraph text) should automatically appear in math boxes. If they are not appearing, please retype them (using an equation editor such as MathType).

    Sorry that this isn’t the concise and positive answer that you were hoping for but it is the best we can do right now.

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  2. andreas says:

    Never having been on the ‘other side’, I obviously have no idea about the inner workings of the publishing process. I know however that journals published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) are incredibly streamlined when it comes to LaTeX. They have superb templates which allows one to format the article such that it looks pretty much like the final version. No messy conversions and danger of mistyped equations anywhere. Wouldn’t it be possible for PLoS to tap into whatever knowledge/resources AIP has? Maybe the answer is no, due to incompatible systems — but it might still be worth exploring. (I really want to send more articles to PLoS but I also really don’t want to go through the messy conversion process again…)

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  3. andreas says:

    I’m glad to read that PLoS is working on better TeX support. I strongly considered submitting a manuscript to PLoS ONE – until I read about the RTF/Word limitation. Having to go through some painful steps with regard to LaTeX to Word conversion for PLoS Comp. Biology, I don’t feel like doing that again. Therefore I’ll wait until PLoS is LaTeX ready.
    As an aside, my own (anecdotal) evidence is that LaTeX (and Linux and OpenOffice) users tend to be strong supporters of Open Access – another reason why I think it would be very good for PLoS to improve their LaTeX support (to get it to a level found at for instance Physical Review journals). I hope it will happen soon!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I was extra-confused when I noticed there is a BiBTeX style file after seeing the “RFT/Word” restriction.

    Surely creating a “LaTeX with PlosOne style” to “PlosOne XML” converter is far easier than doing the same for Word/RTF?

    Is there a “beta” LaTeX style file we can start with?

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  5. Quick comment to mention that with Firefox1.5 the site is looking quite bad. You probably know this already since the homepage redirects to the old page with Firefox and to the new one with IE.
    I read the journal policies and I could not find any mention of preprint servers. Does PLoS ONE allow authors to deposit papers in preprint servers before submission to the journal ?

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  6. Chris Surridge says:

    Sorry about the browser problem. It is a bit odd as I use firefox 1.5 and itworks fine for me. We’ll look into it.

    As to pre-print servers we run the same policy as the rest of PLoS, which is to allow publication of papers versions of which have appeared on a pre-print server.

    We won’t be considering papers that have been formally published elsewhere though.

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  7. Chris Surridge says:

    Pedro (and anyone else with the same problem on the updated PLoS ONE site),

    Your browser problem could be to do with the caching. Try clearing your browser’s cache and access the site again.

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  8. …on Firefox 1.5.0.4 for me.

    By the way, for all my comments, I get an “unverified” tag. Will there be a way to “verify” identity in the future?

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  9. Chris Surridge says:

    sorry about the ‘unverified’ tag. The people who know about such things tell me that it is because you haven’t logged in to the system. This in turn is because we aren’t using that feature on this blog. They say they are looking in to hiding the tag, but I suggested that they probably have more pressing things to sort out. One day it might go away.

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  10. Will the tags just be removed? It sounds as though there will be no verification process. However for a peer-review journal, it seems that identity verification would be a good feature to have when you begin opening up articles to comments. It would be nice to know if that comment really is being made by ““, and not just someone pretending to be an author.

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  11. Chris Surridge says:

    Sorry, I was only talking about this blog. Verification and identity are big questions when it comes to PLoS ONE proper. I need to write a full blog entry discussing that soon because there are a whole lot of interesting things to discuss.

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  12. Anders says:

    PlosONE looks really exiting, but… doesn’t the exclusive use of proprietary text formats mandated in:

    “Text files can be submitted in only the following formats: Word or RTF”

    seem wrong for an open access journal? Is this something that is being worked on?

    Thanks
    Anders

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  13. Chris Surridge says:

    I completely agree. The production team on PLoS ONE are hoping to get the system handling TeX files as soon as possible and Open Office formats too are in our sights. We didn’t want to delay the launch of PLoS ONE until this was done, but we are working on it.

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