Today, we’re pleased to announce the expansion of PLoS Currents with the launch of two new sections, one on Huntington Disease produced with support from CHDI Foundation, Inc., and the other entitled Evidence on Genomic Tests in collaboration with CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Another section called the Tree of Life (focusing on new phylogenetic analyses) is coming soon.
PLoS Currents was launched in August 2009 with a section on Influenza. In his announcement, PLoS co-founder Harold Varmus heralded PLoS Currents as “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”. More than 60 articles have been published in PLoS Currents: Influenza with many articles posted at the height of concerns about the H1N1 pandemic.
The essential goals of PLoS Currents are to minimize the delay between the generation of data and the publication of new research findings, by providing a publication venue where contributions are reviewed rapidly by experts, can be cited so that authors gain the necessary recognition for their work, and are publicly archived so that interested researchers can effectively build on the work of others. By accelerating the sharing of new findings in this way, PLoS Currents has the potential to accelerate the research cycle itself.
To achieve these goals, there are two key features that make PLoS Currents different, and much faster, than a conventional journal. First, each section of PLoS Currents is run by a Board of Reviewers – a group of expert researchers led by the Editors of the section. This group reviews all submissions and determines as rapidly as possible if the conception, structure, and presentation of the submission indicate that it is a legitimate work of science and does not contain any obvious methodological, ethical, or legal violations. As long as the work passes this test, it is published. Many contributions are published without significant revision, and experts outside of the Board of Reviewers are only rarely consulted during the review process.
The second key difference from conventional journals is that the submissions to PLoS Currents are written and published using a web-based tool, called Google knol. Authors are in complete control over the content and appearance of their submission, and once it has passed the review process, articles are published immediately under the Creative Commons Attribution License used by all PLoS Journals. Upon publication they are also archived at PubMed Central, where they are given a unique ID, so that the work can be cited.
The Editors for the new section of PLoS Currents on Huntington Disease are Gill Bates (King’s College London, UK), Mike Levine (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) and Sarah Tabrizi (University College London, UK). The Editors for the new section focusing on Evidence on Genomic Tests are W. David Dotson and Muin J. Khoury – from the Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. They have written a nice introduction to the site here. Both sets of Editors are supported by outstanding teams of expert researchers who review the new submissions.
Gill Bates indicated that she has taken on a leadership role in the Huntington disease section because “there is an urgent need to facilitate the publication of a wide range of datasets that currently never see the light of day. The concept of PLoS Currents: Huntington disease has received a great deal of enthusiasm from the HD research community.” Simon Noble (Director, Scientific Communications, CHDI Foundation) said “The rapid publication of data at PLoS Currents: Huntington Disease that otherwise might not be published in traditional journals will, we hope, accelerate the exchange of scientific data and ideas, enabling investigators to plan research programs with more relevant information at hand. CHDI Foundation is delighted to support this publishing platform, which we think will be particularly important as Huntington disease research gets ever closer to the clinic.”
The CDC also see tremendous potential in the PLoS Currents approach for evaluating genomic tests. Muin Khoury said “we need a strong evidentiary foundation for the integration of genomics into clinical and public health practice. The new PLoS Currents will fill a much needed niche in authorative synthesis of emerging information on genomic tests”.
We welcome feedback on all aspects of this expansion to firstname.lastname@example.org.