PLOS Biology is happy to welcome Nonia Pariente to our team as Editor-in-Chief. To help our community get to know her, we asked her to share some of her initial thoughts on joining the journal team and the work ahead of us to continue pushing the boundaries of publishing in the life sciences.
What are you looking forward to most when you join PLOS Biology? What impact or contribution do you hope to make in your role with PLOS Biology?
I’m very much looking forward to joining the excellent team of professional and Academic Editors. It will be a pleasure to return to a journal where Academic Editors– active researchers– have a role in the journal and where everyone is driven by the goal of open publishing. I’m also excited by the broad scope of the journal after having been focussed on microbiology for the past few years, and am very much looking forward to learning from the communities that make PLOS Biology what it is.
I’d really like to expand the reach of PLOS Biology to all of the life sciences. I’m very passionate about this. I think, beyond the existing communities that already have a home at the journal and that PLOS Biology really caters well to, there are other communities in the life sciences that we could be talking to at the moment who currently don’t feel that PLOS Biology is for them. I very much want to open up the doors and tell all biologists that all exciting biology has a home in PLOS Biology. In that vein, I also want to reinforce PLOS Biology as the flagship PLOS journal in life sciences, aiming to publish important advances in all of the areas of biology
Overall, what do you think makes PLOS Biology stand out?
What makes PLOS Biology and PLOS in general stand out is that it is an organization that was founded with the goal and drive to innovate the process of scientific publication for the benefit of scientists and scientific advance. Thinking outside the box is almost an obligation.
This innovation began of course with Open Access, and has developed over the years to open data, transparent review, accepting Review Commons reports, linking to preprint servers and the new article types that we’ve recently announced. It’s quite a unique organization. The motto for PLOS Biology is essentially to break the status quo and drive publishing for the benefit of science, and for the benefit of scientists and society.
In your work as a journal Editor-in-Chief, what do you find especially rewarding? What motivates you?
Since I started editing, and definitely as I have grown throughout my career, becoming Chief Editor of Nature Microbiology and now as Editor-in-Chief of PLOS Biology, my goal has been to help science advance and to help scientists communicate their stories.
I think with ever increasing volumes of publication and ever increasing time demands on the researcher, selective journals have a really important role to play in the process. Now that a lot (and hopefully soon most) of life sciences research is posted on preprint servers and immediately accessible after discovery, researchers are unlikely to have time to really scrutinize all available information. Journals that are selective and present to the community the most important advances will remain crucial in this landscape.
We do not aim to chase hot topics or be a slave to journal-level metrics, but rather be in a position where publishing with us will help researchers advance their careers, and secure funding to continue research while making their work widely visible and discoverable. PLOS Biology can provide a venue for researchers that is reputable, widely accessible and also widely read.
What challenges do you envisage for you, the journal, the community?
One of the biggest challenges for publishing in general is that it is changing so rapidly. Driven by the internet revolution, societal demands for more transparency, and huge, huge pressures on researchers to increase their volume of scientific output in a relatively rigid system. The ecosystem is constantly changing. Although PLOS is already a nimble and avant-garde organization, PLOS Biology will need to be adaptable and quick to change with the times while maintaining the goal of enabling access to excellent research.
Another challenge is to maintain the level of author service even as we reach out to and welcome new communities. This is very important. Excellent author service has been a priority in my career and will continue to be so. Short turnaround times, transparent decision-making, detailed decisions at every stage are already part of PLOS Biology’s ethos and will continue to be so.
How would you describe the new vision for PLOS Biology? What changes can authors anticipate?
With the aim of helping to de-pressurise the publication process within this publish or perish ecosystem, we want to put more emphasis on the question being asked instead of the final results obtained. When the question asked fits our publication criteria, then the answer obtained is interesting to us regardless of what it is. Although not all null and negative results will be equally valuable, in many cases they significantly drive a field forward — more so than is normally appreciated in life science publishing. Preregistered Research Articles offer researchers additional security that the results will be publishable in PLOS Biology no matter the outcome.
We will also launch Discovery Reports and linked Update Articles. These shorter pieces give authors who have an initial, very exciting discovery that’s validated, a means for publishing their findings rapidly. Even when you don’t don’t yet understand the mechanism behind a discovery or you haven’t found out its physiological relevance, but what you do have has been validated with different approaches and it holds up and it’s interesting, we would consider it as a Discovery report. This could then be followed up by linked Update Articles where you (or others) can deliver more of the story– which could take years.
PLOS has a vision to Open Science. What does this mean to you?
This is a very important question. Open Science is vital to enable scientific advance. The ultimate goal of a publication is to enable others to build on research and this is not possible if the research is not accessible.
This means Open Access of the text, of course, but this is really just the tip of the iceberg. Open Science is also about open, reusable, and fair data; clear protocols; clear, accessible reagents; and open code. It means putting all of the generated knowledge and all of the means that were used to generate it into the public domain to enable further discovery.
What would you like to know from the PLOS Biology community?
As I get to know more about PLOS Biology and as we move through this time of transition, I’m open to feedback from our community about what they would like to see that’s not already there. What other needs can we help solve? What changes would they like to see?