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Public Library of Science
PLOS logo 2012.svg
Founded 2000/2003
Founder Patrick O. Brown and Michael Eisen
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Levi's Plaza
San Francisco, California
Key people Alison Mudditt
Publication types Academic journals
Nonfiction topics Science
Official website

PLOS (for Public Library of Science) is a nonprofit open-access science, technology and medicine publisher, innovator and advocacy organization with a library of open-access journals and other scientific literature under an open-content license. It launched its first journal, PLOS Biology, in October 2003 and publishes seven journals, as of October 2015.[1][2] The organization is based in San Francisco, California, and has a European editorial office in Cambridge, England. The publications are primarily funded by payments from the authors.


The Open Access logo
The first video published alongside a PLOS article: a model of how the human transferrin receptor assists transferrin in releasing iron[3]

The Public Library of Science began in 2000 with an online petition initiative by Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus, formerly director of the National Institutes of Health and at that time director of Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center; Patrick O. Brown, a biochemist at Stanford University; and Michael Eisen, a computational biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.[4][5] The petition called for all scientists to pledge that from September 2001 they would discontinue submission of articles to journals that did not make the full text of their articles available to all, free and unfettered, either immediately or after a delay of no more than 6 months. Although tens of thousands signed the petition, most did not act upon its terms; and in August 2001, Brown and Eisen announced that they would start their own non-profit publishing operation.[6] In December 2002, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded PLOS a $9 million grant, which it followed in May 2006 with a $1 million grant to help PLOS achieve financial sustainability and launch new free-access biomedical journals.[7]

The PLOS organizers turned their attention to starting their own journal, along the lines of the UK-based BioMed Central, which has been publishing open-access scientific articles in the biological sciences in journals such as Genome Biology and the Journal of Biology since late 1999.

As a publishing company, the Public Library of Science officially launched its operation on 13 October 2003, with the publication of a print and online scientific journal entitled PLOS Biology, and has since launched seven more journals. One, PLOS Clinical Trials, has since been merged into PLOS ONE. Following the merger, the company started the PLOS Hub for Clinical Trials to collect journal articles published in any PLOS journal and relating to clinical trials.

The PLOS journals are what is described as "open-access content"; all content is published under the Creative Commons "attribution" license. The project states (quoting the Budapest Open Access Initiative) that: "The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited."

In 2011, the Public Library of Science became an official financial supporting organization of Healthcare Information For All by 2015,[8] a global initiative that advocates unrestricted access to medical knowledge, sponsoring the first HIFA2015 Webinar in 2012.[9]

In 2012 the organization quit using the stylization "PLoS" to identify itself and began using only "PLOS".[10]

In 2016, PLOS confirmed that their chief executive officer Elizabeth Marincola would be leaving for personal and professional reasons at the end of that year.[11] In May 2017, PLOS announced that their new CEO will be Alison Mudditt with effect from June.[12]

Financial model

To fund the journals, PLOS charges an article processing charge to be paid by the author or the author's employer or funder. In the United States, institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute have pledged that recipients of their grants will be allocated funds to cover such author charges. The Global Participation Initiative (GPI) was instituted in 2012, by which authors in "group-one countries" are not charged a fee, and those in group-two countries are given a fee reduction. (In all cases, decisions to publish are based solely on editorial criteria.) PLOS was launched with grants totaling US$13 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Sandler Family Supporting Foundation.[13] PLOS confirmed in July 2011 that it no longer relies on subsidies from foundations and is covering its operational costs itself.[14][15] Since then PLOS' balance sheet has improved from $20,511,000 net assets in 2012–2013 to $36,591,000 in 2014–2015.[16][17]


  • PLOS Biology, ISSN 1544-9173; October 2003
  • PLOS Medicine, ISSN 1549-1676; October 2004
  • PLOS Computational Biology, ISSN 1553-7374; June 2005
  • PLOS Genetics, ISSN 1553-7404; July 2005
  • PLOS Pathogens, ISSN 1549-1676; September 2005
  • PLOS Clinical Trials ISSN 1555-5887; May 2006, later merged into PLOS ONE
  • PLOS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203; December 2006
  • PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, ISSN 1935-2735; October 2007
  • PLOS Hub for Clinical Trials, third quarter 2007
  • PLOS Currents, ISSN 2157-3999; August 2009

Other partners

In April 2017, PLOS was one of the founding partners in the Initiative for Open Citations.[18]


PLOS has its main headquarters in Suite 225 in the Koshland East Building in Levi's Plaza in San Francisco.[19] The company was previously located at 185 Berry Street.[20] In June 2010, PLOS announced that it was moving to a new location in order to accommodate its rapid growth. The move to the Koshland East Building went into effect on 21 June 2010.[21]

See also


  1. ^ "Journals". Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  2. ^ Ownes, Simon (2015-07-13). "Why Academic Journals Are Teaming Up With Reddit". Media Shift. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  3. ^ Giannetti, A. M.; Snow, P. M.; Zak, O.; Björkman, P. J. (2003). "Mechanism for Multiple Ligand Recognition by the Human Transferrin Receptor". PLoS Biology. 1 (3): e1. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0000051. PMC 300677. PMID 14691533.
  4. ^ "History". Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Professor Michael Eisen: A Pioneer of Open Access Science". The Tower. 2014. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  6. ^ Brower, V. (2001). "Public library of science shifts gears: As scientific publishing boycott deadline approached, advocates of free scientific publishing announce that they will create their own online, free-access archive". EMBO Reports. 2 (11): 972–973. doi:10.1093/embo-reports/kve239. PMC 1084138. PMID 11713184.
  7. ^ "Public Library of Science to launch new free-access biomedical journals with $9 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation". Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. 17 December 2002. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  8. ^ "How organisations support HIFA2015". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  9. ^ "HIFA2015 Webinars". Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  10. ^ David Knutson (23 July 2012). "New PLOS look". PLOS BLOG. Public Library of Science. Archived from the original on 6 August 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  11. ^ "PLOS on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  12. ^ "PLOS Appoints Alison Mudditt Chief Executive Officer | STM Publishing News". Retrieved 2017-05-19.
  13. ^ Declan Butler (June 2006). "Open-access journal hits rocky times". Nature. 441 (7096): 914. Bibcode:2006Natur.441..914B. doi:10.1038/441914a. PMID 16791161.
  14. ^ "2010 PLOS Progress Update | The Official PLOS Blog". 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  15. ^ Sugita, Shigeki (2014). "How far has open access progressed?". SPARC Japan. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  16. ^ "2012-2013 Progress Update" (PDF). PLOS. 2013-09-19. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  17. ^ "2014-2015 Progress Update" (PDF). PLOS. 2015-09-15. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
  18. ^ "Press". Initiative for Open Citations. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Contact". PLoS. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  20. ^ "Contact". Internet Archive Wayback Machine. PLoS. 2008-03-10. Archived from the original on 2008-03-10. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  21. ^ Allen, Liz (2010-06-16). "PLoS San Francisco office is moving | The Official PLOS Blog". PLOS. Retrieved 2012-03-04.


  • Adam, David. "Scientists Take on the Publishers in an Experiment to Make Research Free to All" The Guardian, 6 October 2003.
  • Albanese, Andrew. "Open Access Gains with PLoS Launch: Scientists Call for Cell Press Boycott; Harvard Balks on Big Deal." Library Journal, 15 November 2003, 18-19.
  • Bernstein, Philip, Barbara Cohen, Catriona MacCallum, Hemai Parthasarathy, Mark Patterson, and V. Siegel. "PLOS Biology-We're Open" PLoS Biology 1, no.2 (2003): 3 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0000034 open access publication – free to read
  • Brower, Vicki (2001). "Public Library of Science Shifts Gears". EMBO Reports. 2 (11): 972–973. doi:10.1093/embo-reports/kve239. PMC 1084138. PMID 11713184.
  • Brown, Patrick O., Michael B. Eisen, and Harold E. Varmus. "Why PLoS Became a Publisher." PLoS Biology 1, no. 1 (2003): 1–2. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0000036 open access publication – free to read
  • Butler, Declan. "Public Library Set to Turn Publisher as Boycott Looms." Nature, 2 August 2001, 469.
  • ———. "Scientific Publishing: Who Will Pay for Open Access?" Nature, 9 October 2003, 554-555.
  • Case, Mary. "The Public Library of Science." ARL: A Bimonthly Report on Research Library Issues and Actions from ARL, CNI, and SPARC, no. 215 (2001): 4.
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  • ———. "PLoS Medicine." PLoS Biology 2, no. 2 (2004): 139. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020063 open access publication – free to read
  • Doyle, Helen. "Public Library of Science (PLoS): Committed to Making the World's Scientific and Medical Literature A Public Resource." ASIDIC Newsletter, no. 87 (2004): 9–10.
  • Doyle, Helen J (2004). "The Public Library of Science—Open Access from the Ground Up". College & Research Libraries News. 65 (3): 134–136.
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  • Eisen, Michael. "Publish and Be Praised." The Guardian, 9 October 2003.,12981,1058578,00.html
  • Foster, Andrea L. "Scientists Plan 2 Online Journals to Make Articles Available Free." The Chronicle of Higher Education, 10 January 2003, A29.
  • Gallagher, Richard (2003). "Will Walls Come Tumbling Down?". The Scientist. 17 (5): 15.
  • Kleiner, Kurt. "Free Online Journal Gives Sneak Preview." New Scientist, 19 August 2003, 18.
  • Knight, Jonathan. "Journal Boycott Presses Demand for Free Access." Nature, 6 September 2001, 6.
  • Malakoff, David. "Opening the Books on Open Access." Science Magazine, 24 October 2003, 550–554.
  • Mantell, Katie. "Open-Access Journal Seeks to Cut Costs for Researchers." SciDev.Net, 15 January 2004.
  • Mason, Betsy. "Cell Editor Joins PLoS." The Scientist, 13 January 2003.
  • ———. "New Open-Access Journals." The Scientist, 20 December 2002.
  • McLaughlin, Andrew. "Senior Scientists Promise to Boycott Journals." The Scientist, 2 November 2000.
  • Medeiros, Norm (2004). "Of Budgets and Boycotts: The Battle over Open Access Publishing" (PDF). OCLC Systems & Services. 20 (1): 7–10. doi:10.1108/10650750410527278.
  • Mellman, Ira. "Setting Logical Priorities: A Boycott Is Not the Best Route to Free Exchange of Scientific Information." Nature, 26 April 2001, 1026.
  • Ojala, Marydee (2003). "Intro to Open Access: The Public Library of Science". EContent. 26 (10): 11–12.
  • Olsen, Florence. "Scholars Urge Boycott of Journals That Won't Join Free Archives." The Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 April 2001, A43.
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  • ———. "The Future of the Public Library of Science." Information Today 19, no. 2 (2002): 28.
  • ———. "The Scholarly Publisher as Midwife." Information Today 18, no. 7 (2001): 32.
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  • Public Library of Science. "Open Letter to Scientific Publishers." (2001).
  • Reich, Margaret. "Peace, Love, and PLoS." The Physiologist 2003; 46(4): 137, 139–141.
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  • Schubert, Charlotte (2003). "PLoS Snaps Up Cell Editor". Nature Medicine. 9 (2): 154–155. doi:10.1038/nm0203-154b.
  • Stankus, Tony (2003). "The Public Library of Science Passes Its First Biology Test". Technicalities. 23 (6): 4–5.
  • Suber, Peter. "The Launch of PLoS Biology." SPARC Open Access Newsletter, no. 67 (2003).
  • Thibodeau, Patricia L., and Carla J. Funk. "Quality Information for Improved Health." PLoS Biology 2, no. 2 (2004): 171–172. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020048 open access publication – free to read
  • Twyman, Nick (2004). "Launching PLoS Biology?Six Months in the Open". Serials. 17 (2): 127–131. doi:10.1629/17127.
  • Velterop, Jan. "Vendor View." Information World Review, 1 December 2001.
  • Wadman, Meredith. "Publishers Challenged over Access to Papers." Nature, 29 March 2001, 502.
  • Walgate, Robert. "PLoS Biology Launches." The Scientist, 10 October 2003.

External links

  • Official website
  • Harold Varmus's Short Talk: "Changing the Way We Publish"
  • Editorial in the 7 August 2003 edition of The New York Times concerning Public Library of Science journals
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