The successful development of open access publishing by organizations including the Public Library of Science (PLoS) in recent years is a dramatic illustration of how the Internet is revolutionizing scientific communication. Today, after several months of work, I’m delighted to announce that PLoS is launching PLoS Currents (Beta) – a new and experimental website for the rapid communication of research results and ideas. In response to the recent worldwide H1N1 influenza outbreak, the first PLoS Currents research theme is influenza.
PLoS Currents: Influenza, which we are launching today, is built on three key components: a small expert research community that PLoS is working with to run the website; Google Knol with new features that allow content to be gathered together in collections after being vetted by expert moderators; and a new, independent database at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) called Rapid Research Notes, where research targeted for rapid communication, such as the content in PLoS Currents: Influenza will be freely and permanently accessible. To ensure that researchers are properly credited for their work, PLoS Currents content will also be given a unique identifier by the NCBI so that it is citable.
PLoS Currents: Influenza welcomes contributions covering any and all aspects of research into influenza: influenza virology, genetics, immunity, structural biology, genomics, epidemiology, modeling, evolution, policy and control. Contributions might take the form of new datasets, preliminary analyses or entire manuscripts. The launch site already features new findings from some outstanding influenza researchers.
To enable contributions to PLoS Currents: Influenza to be shared as rapidly as possible, they will not be subject to in-depth peer review; however, unsuitable submissions will be screened out by a board of expert moderators led by Eddie Holmes (Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Pennsylvania State University, USA) and Peter Palese (Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, USA).
The key goal of PLoS Currents is to accelerate scientific discovery by allowing researchers to share their latest findings and ideas immediately with the world’s scientific and medical communities. Google Knol’s features for community interaction, comment and discussion will enable commentary and conversations to develop around these findings. Given that the contributions to PLoS Currents are not peer-reviewed in detail, however, the results and conclusions must be regarded as preliminary. In time, it is therefore likely that PLoS Currents contributors will submit their work for publication in a formal journal, and the PLoS Journals will welcome these submissions.
PLoS Currents: Influenza is an experiment and a prototype for further PLoS Currents sites. It reflects our commitment to using online tools to the fullest extent possible for the open sharing of research results. As with any new project, we will be listening carefully to the reactions within and beyond the scientific and medical communities and welcoming suggestions for improvements.
Harold Varmus Chairman and Co-Founder, Public Library of Science