The Nature of PLoS

I have a partially written half baked (eventually to be fully baked) post expanding on Open Access publishing and the PLoS – Nature controversy (which is heating up quite nicely). But I may or may not finish it. What I do want to point out now is that I’ve made a couple of changes in my earlier post on the Nature commentary on PLoS by way of correction. There are two simple points to make here:

1) My own criticism of “peer review” is really meant to be a broader critique of the publishing process overall. Furthermore, my belief is NOT that the situation with science publishing is totally screwed up, but rather, that there are some real problems that must be addressed, and PLoS as Open Access and PLoS as on line is an important model for what I see as a good approach to solving some of these problems.

2) I had misatributed to an unidentified person associated with BMC a certain comment. Butler’s article clearly insinuates this connection but technically does not make it. So I changed the wording there. But I would like to know why Butler makes such a clear yet indefinate link. Is there some sort of intrigue here?

… No, wait a minute. I don’t want to know. It really is not all that interesting. Just give me my Open Access and … shut. up.


  1. #1 Bjoern Brembs
    July 4, 2008

    Isn’t it fairly clear to anyone who ever has submitted a manuscript to a ‘non-light’ (Butler) peer-review journal, what it is that is wrong about peer-review? It’s exactly the component which Butler insinuates as being essential. In the GlamMags, the toughest obstacle to publication is also the least relevant: if the editor likes the results and finds them newsworthy. The real peer-review is less difficult to handle. Everybody who has published in GlamMags will attest to that.

    Peer-review that only focuses on scientific factors (controls, conclusions, reference to previous work, etc.) works just fine. It’s never been intended to detect outright fraud, though, that is the job of other labs trying to reproduce the data. Therefore I say: Get rid of all journals! Publish everything that is peer-reviewed in a central repository and let the editors decide which one is newsworthy after scientists have made sure the worst flaws are gone.

    Peer-review is not broken – it’s just the wrong way around :-)

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    July 4, 2008


    You have described the situation perfectly. Peer review itself … the peers, reviewing, can be tricky and it can be done poorly (like when everyone skips the bit about how a Magical Man created the molecule the paper is about) and so on. But generally it is a positive and productive process.