Public Library of Science
PLOS Logo 2020.png
PLOS logo since March 2020
FounderPatrick O. Brown and Michael Eisen
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters locationLevi's Plaza
San Francisco, California
Key peopleAlison Mudditt
Publication typesAcademic journals
Nonfiction topicsScience

PLOS (for Public Library of Science) is a nonprofit open-access science, technology and medicine publisher 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 (as of October 2015) publishes seven journals.[1][2] The organization is based in San Francisco, California, and has a European editorial office in Cambridge, Great Britain. 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 since 2000.

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

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 17 April 2012.
  2. ^ Ownes, Simon (13 July 2015). "Why Academic Journals Are Teaming Up With Reddit". Media Shift. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  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". Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  5. ^ "Professor Michael Eisen: A Pioneer of Open Access Science". The Tower. 2014. Archived from the original on 1 November 2015. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  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 31 October 2016.
  12. ^ "PLOS Appoints Alison Mudditt Chief Executive Officer | STM Publishing News". Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  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". 20 July 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  15. ^ Sugita, Shigeki (2014). "How far has open access progressed?". SPARC Japan. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  16. ^ "2012-2013 Progress Update" (PDF). PLOS. 19 September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  17. ^ "2014-2015 Progress Update" (PDF). PLOS. 15 September 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  18. ^ "Press". Initiative for Open Citations. 6 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017.
  19. ^ "Contact". PLoS. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  20. ^ "Contact". Internet Archive Wayback Machine. PLoS. 10 March 2008. Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2012.
  21. ^ Allen, Liz (16 June 2010). "PLoS San Francisco office is moving | The Official PLOS Blog". PLOS. Retrieved 4 March 2012.


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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