Thursday, August 16, 2012

Publishing in PLoS ONE

After having gotten two papers accepted with PLoS ONE, the most surprising thing that you get for your $1350 USD has nothing to do with the quality of a review you get back, the style of publication or the number of pages you write. No. what you get is enormous amounts of work regarding your manuscript about files, formats, what you can't, shan't and what the production staff won't touch unless you 'fix' issues that they could have done easily. However, the most annoying thing is that each time there is a new issue/interaction you get to have a new person. Furthermore, as you get new production-staff all the time, their rules change. For instance, I got this email this morning:
For references, PLoS uses the numbered citation (citation-sequence) method. References should be cited in numerical order on first mention in the text. Citations should be indicated by the reference number in square brackets. See refs 21 and 42
which I understand. However, the production staff on the EFMO paper fixed this without notifying me (something you might would expect for the $1350 you pay up front).

Second of all, every email ends with

We apologize if any of these items were not requested previously. We sincerely appreciate your efforts to help us format your manuscript for publication.
so after three different persons from the PLoS Production Staff I get three different emails with different issues and different rules, but they all end with that line which got me to write this post in the first place.

Here is my short list of things that I have to remember for next time I'll upload an MS to PLoS ONE

  • Even though you can upload supporting information in zip-files during the review, the published paper cannot include zip-files. So you 20 example files will have to be uploaded separately each with their own little legend (like I got nothing else to do?)
  • Images should not be provided in EPS format. Take the time yourself to make the TIFF image right away since PLoS ONE apparently does what their guidelines state which can also be unsatisfying (upscale PDF, take screenshot, save TIFF)
  • The above point is especially important if you have line-figures or chemical reactions. Most programs will have some crazy setup when saving to whatever native format which looks good on screen, but you have to be sure that your TIFF is 300 dpi (even though most people read the web-version anyways and they use a downscaled image for that)
  • The provided Latex template (bibtex style file actually) cannot format a citation correctly according to what they recommend (see here for instance). The staff has been notified of this and some Latex-wizzard is apparently on the case. Until then. Have fun citing PLoS ONE papers in a PLoS ONE publication.

Oh well, that was a minor rant. I still love you PLoS ONE.
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