Peer review in scientific publications - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Dr Mark Patterson, Public Library of Science (PLoS) (PR 54a)

Thank you once again for the opportunity to provide written and oral evidence to the Science and Technology Committee inquiry into peer review.

As requested, here are the links to the two public slide presentations (with audio tracks) which provide summaries of the author research that PLoS has carried over the past two years:

In addition, I would just like to highlight a few brief points to emphasize how central open access is to much of the discussion we had in the oral session:

(1)  The kind of approach that we (and now other publishers) are taking with PLoS ONE is most suited to an open-access mode of publishing, using a business model that scales with publication volume. Every article that is published is covered by a publication fee, which ensures that PLoS ONE is fully sustainable. Because of their capacity for very rapid growth, PLoS ONE and similar products are therefore helping to drive and accelerate the transition towards comprehensive open access to all research outputs. More broadly, PLoS and other publishers are showing that more conventionally run open-access journals can also be sustainably supported with the publication fee model.

(2)  In terms of the question about value for money for the estimated £110-£165 million that is invested in the UK for peer review, we will gain much greater value for money as more of the peer-reviewed articles that arise from these efforts are made open access. In addition, initiatives such as ORCID ( could, if coupled with greater transparency (ie open) peer review, provide the researchers who do peer review with the academic credit for this endeavour that is currently not given.

(3)  In relation to the question about reprint revenue from the pharmaceutical industry in medical publishing, full open access allows the commercial reuse of published articles, and thus ensures that publishers do not have exclusive rights to reprint revenues from the articles that they publish. This important principle helps to mitigate the substantial financial competing interests that come into play when publishing research sponsored by the pharmaceutical or other industries (see also PLoS Medicine's opening editorial—

(4)  Open access is enshrined in the licenses that are used by open-access publishers. The gold standard is to use the Creative Commons Attribution License (—this permits any reuse of the content, commercial as well as non-commercial, subject only to the restriction that the original authors and sources must be cited. Open access thus removes all barriers to the reuse of as well as to the access to research information, and maximizes its impact.

Dr Mark Patterson
Director of Publishing
Public Library of Science

26 May 2011

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 28 July 2011