At PLOS ONE we like to speed up the publication process wherever we can. We like science to be out in the open, and publication of peer-reviewed research to take place without undue delays, so that others can use and build upon the findings. Aligned with our founding mission, we aim to be as fast as we can while remaining true to our publication criteria and without compromising the quality of the peer review process. To ensure common editorial standards across the journal we have also increased desk rejects of submission that fail our editorial criteria. This rate now stands at around 23%.
In the past few months we have seen a few exciting improvements in the speed of manuscript handling at PLOS ONE. During April our median time to first editorial decision after peer review dropped to 42 days. It was at 53 days a year ago. And our median time from submission to publication online has also dropped to 165 days in April, coming down from 183 days earlier in 2018. This means that manuscripts that we publish move now 18 days faster through the full peer review process than a year ago, and the first decision after peer review is reached 11 days earlier. A more comprehensive list of long-term metrics is appended below and on our web page. We are very grateful to the members of our Editorial Board and our reviewers that have facilitated a fast peer review at the journal.
These improvements follow intensive efforts around an improved author service that we have been working on over the course of the past year and a half. An example is our work to achieve a better and faster matching of submitted manuscripts to the members of our Editorial Board. As those efforts are still propagating through the manuscripts under active consideration we expect further improvements over the rest of the year. In particular, we are aware that median times to publication do not capture the delays that individual manuscripts can experience for various reasons. We have considerably reduced factors that have caused delays to manuscripts in the past, but we also acknowledge that we have more work to do, and won’t rest on these results. Authors who are concerned about the processing time for their studies are always welcome to reach out to me personally.
Advancing the process of peer review is only one aspect of an efficient communication of research. We have always been supportive also of the use of preprint servers as a way to post results and to invite community feedback on manuscripts early. Last year we started a service where we facilitate the posting of submitted manuscript to bioRxiv, if authors choose to do so. And since its launch we now have posted more than 2,500 preprints across all participating PLOS journals!
We will continue to work on facilitating a fast, efficient yet rigorous communication of research to the community. We are proud of what we have achieved so far, and remain committed to driving further improvements.