One of the anti-PLOSone arguments is that its acceptance rate is too high at about 70%. Since I had my RK Merton compendium open to this article, I thought I would quote some bits to backup my argument that the anti-PLOSone folks are completely full of crap on this point. Here’s the citation:
Zuckerman, H., & Merton, R. K. (1971). Patterns of Evaluation in Science: Institutionalization, Structure and Functions of the Referee System. Minerva, 9(1), 66-100. (I believe this might be in JSTOR if you’re at an academic institution, but it’s also reprinted in Merton, R. K. (1973). The sociology of science: theoretical and empirical investigations. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Find in a library.)
Table 1 (p 471 in the book)
Rates of Rejecting Manuscripts for Publication in Scientific and Humanistic Journals, 1967
|Mean Rejection Rate %||Number of Journals|
|Language and Literature||86||5|
|Psychology (excl. experimental and physiological)||70||7|
|Experimental and physiological psychology||51||2|
|Math and statistics||50||5|
from page 472
The pattern of differences between fields and within fields can be described in the same rule of thumb: the more humanistically oriented the journal, the higher the rate of rejecting manuscripts for publication; the more experimentally and observationally oriented, with an emphasis on rigor of observation and analysis, the lower the rate of rejection.
These variations in the institutional behavior of learned journals may in part reflect differences in the extent of agreement on standards of scholarship in the various disciplines.
So what explains the high rejection rates of the mega glamour mags? Obviously requires more analysis, but they’re more about attention than communicating within a particular community so they work differently. You might say that it’s appropriate to compare PLOSone with a mega glamour mag, but clearly based on the stated editorial philosophy, that’s not the way it is envisioned or how it’s actually being run. There’s a lot more in the Zuckerman and Merton piece on this, but I’m supposed to be writing my proposal… so you’ll have to read it yourself.
Oh, and yes 1967 was a long time ago, but I think this still holds.