So back to the question that is asked in the title of this post, "Is PLOS One the future of scientific publishing?", I am going to have to say a tentative "Yes". I think their basis of publishing papers not on novelty, but focusing peer-review on ensuring that the methods, and conclusions drawn from the results are scientifically sound, opens many doors for how scientists publish their findings. Currently, scientists compete for a limited space in a "high-impact" journal. In the majority of cases papers are not rejected because of their methods, results, and conclusions are not valid, but due to a better paper being submitted at the same time. This competition is justified, but in this current format has various drawbacks including:
- Importance of research is determined by a very small number of reviewers and usually a single editor has the final decision
- Significance or novelty of research is very subjective and can vary widely between reviewers
- Significance can change over time as future experiments confirm or depend on the results of the current research (including negative results)
- Not making the cut (i.e. rejection) results in a large waste of time as authors have to reformat, resubmit, and respond to new reviewers comments
Personally, I have never published in PLOS One and by no means do I think PLOS One in its current form is the pinnacle of publishing. However, I do appreciate that they are trying to change the way science publishing is currently conducted.