More things you don’t have time to read

PLoS One has published over 5,000 papers. Is that a sign of success or failure?

I’ve worried before on this blog about the exploding number of science publications. Publications represent completed research, which is progress, and is good. But the purpose of writing a paper is not for it to appear in print, the purpose is for people to read it. The more papers are published, it stands to reason, the fewer people read each one. Thus, there is some argument for publishing fewer, higher quality papers. I have heard that the average publication gets fewer than 1 citation, meaning many papers are never cited and thus presumably were not found to be relevant to anybody’s research program.

It is in this context that I read the following excited announcement from PLoS ONE, a relatively new open-access journal:

nearly 30,000 of your peers have published over 5,000 papers with us since our launch just over two years ago.

That’s a lot of papers. Granted, I admit to being part of the problem. Though I do now have a citation.


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