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PLoS Medicine is 5 this week

PLoS Medicine at 5 Years
Adapted from image by Adrian Boliston

It’s five years this week  since PLoS Medicines inaugural issue. We’ve taken this opportunity to reflect on the past five years and what the future holds, both for medical publishing and the publishing landscape as a whole. Two editorials this year lay out our thoughts in more depth; the April 2009 editorial, A Medical Journal for the World’s Health Priorities, which discusses our new scope with a focus on the diseases and risk factors that cause the greatest loss of life and disability worldwide; and the October 2009 editorial, Five Years of Access and Activism, which reflects on some of the issues we have covered since we launched. You might also enjoy listening to a couple of  podcasts that were recorded by editorial board members Bruce Lanphear and Madukhar Pai earlier in the year when we launched our refocused scope.

It’s been quite an adventure over the past five years and one that would have been nowhere near as much fun, nor as successful, without the fantastic support of our editorial board, reviewers, and of course all the authors who took a chance by publishing in what was, a relatively short time ago, an unknown journal. We’re very much looking forward to the next five years, and more.

As you may have noticed if you’ve been following our blog or visiting our website, we held a competition to find the best open-access medical paper as a fun way of marking our fifth birthday.  Voting ended on 15th October, 2009 (PDT) and the winning paper was authored by Goodarz  Danaei, Majid Ezzati and colleagues.  Lead author Dr. Danaei was surprised and delighted with the outcome and commented that “this paper shows that hundreds of thousands of premature deaths can be avoided in the United States each year by addressing preventable dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors like salt intake, smoking, and high blood pressure. Its very purpose, to inform policy decisions, meant that there should be no limits to who can access it”.

You can read more about how the competition was organized on our community blog Speaking of Medicine. We featured 5 papers in the competition:

Emergence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis with extensive resistance to second-line drugs — Worldwide, 2000–2004
Wright, A. et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. (2006) 301-305

The preventable causes of death in the United States: comparative risk assessment of dietary, lifestyle, and metabolic risk factors Danaei, G. et al. PLoS Med. (2009) 6(4): e1000058

Randomized, controlled intervention trial of male circumcision for reduction of HIV infection risk: the ANRS 1265 Trial. Auvert, B. et al.  PLoS Med (2005) 2(11): e298.

Identification and characterization of transmitted and early founder virus envelopes in primary HIV-1 infection Keele, B.F. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci (USA) (2008)  105 :7552-7557

Projections of global mortality and burden of disease from 2002 to 2030 Mathers, C. D & Loncar, D. PLoS Med (2006) 3(11): e442

Did we end up with a good selection of open access medicine papers? Which is your favourite and why? And were there any gems that we missed?

Now that all PLoS journal articles feature ‘article-level metrics’ you can see for yourself how many other people have read any of the articles you have authored or found useful in clinical practice, teaching, or study. Over the coming years we hope the article-level metrics will be some measure of how useful our papers are to the medicine community, and will add to the already well-used metric of citations. The winning paper was published on April 28th 2009, but already it has been downloaded as a PDF more than 1500 times, and viewed as HTML more than 8000 times. The paper that came second has been viewed just under 30000 times and downloaded as a PDF 20000 times, since its publication in November, 2006. The third-placed paper, which was published in October, 2005 has been viewed more than 34000 times and downloaded as a PDF more than 7900 times.

Our competition was just one a series of events marking Open Access week so please visit their site and check out how others have been promoting open access.

A Medical Journal for the World’s Health Priorities

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