As the year winds down to a close, we wanted to celebrate the excellence of the work we see every day at PLOS Biology. As a journal, we’re committed to connecting researchers everywhere to high-caliber research that is changing the landscape of the biological sciences. Our authors have given us the opportunity to review some exceptional work in a diverse range of topics.
To celebrate their successes, we’ve put together a collection of PLOS Biology authors’ most impactful research from 2015 – 2018. We’d also like to take the opportunity to share our thoughts, from two of our staff editors–Lauren Richardson and Roland Roberts–below, on our work getting these exciting manuscripts to publication.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being an editor?
RR: Opening the next manuscript PDF and not knowing what random field of biology you’re going to land in. What unusual aspect of which bizarre organism will I encounter next? It’s the sheer serendipity and eclecticism of the job that I find so rewarding.
LR: One of the aspects I enjoy most about being an editor is working with our Editorial Board Members and Academic Editors. We handle manuscripts in a very collaborative manner and I have learned so much from them. It is incredibly satisfying to see a manuscript improve through the peer review process and make an impact in a field.
How do you know which studies are going to be important?
LR: The honest answer is that I don’t always know! It can take years for the importance of a study to be truly appreciated. But occasionally we do receive studies that upend long-held paradigms or that have translational or clinical relevance that have more immediate significance.
RR: This is really hard to second-guess, even for those in the field. Some key studies are slow-burners whose significance takes years to emerge. If I find something interesting, and the Academic Editor finds it interesting, and the reviewers fall over themselves in effusive praise then we may be onto something…
What are the most inspiring kinds of papers you see?
RR: I really enjoy our meta-research articles, where the authors are taking a step back and putting scientists – and the way they perform and communicate research – under the microscope. The aim is often to question the received wisdom about how best to do things, and to strive for improvement.
LR: I am inspired by the studies that reveal previously unappreciated complexity or connectedness. In biology, it seems there is always a next level of regulation, organization, or influence that has yet to be unveiled, and systems—from molecular to ecological—are more interwoven that we ever realized.
Thanks to all of the researchers who have contributed their expertise to help shape the excellence of this work and enabled us to share it with the broadest community of researchers. And congratulations to our authors on their successes!