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When you choose to publish with PLOS, your research makes an impact. Make your work accessible to all, without restrictions, and accelerate scientific discovery with options like preprints and published peer review that make your work more Open.

2021 Financial Overview

Expanding our Open Science community

In twenty years as an organization, we’ve taken our dedicated research communities with us on a journey from Open Access to Open Science, the core principles of which are now underpinning approaches to research integrity and accessibility around the globe. At the same time, our conversations with research communities last year revealed real barriers in science communication that inhibit global progress and impede opportunities for the experts who want to make their knowledge accessible to as many as possible. Building off a period of successful growth, this year we invested in several strategic initiatives that make PLOS a stronger ally for all research communities around the globe, drive change across the scholarly landscape, and invite more researchers to shape the ways in which we carry our mission forward.

Our first new journals since 2007

The research landscape has evolved since we launched PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14 years ago, as have the ways Open Science can make a difference in improving scholarly communication across disciplines. Themes that emerged from the pandemic: the need for global collaboration, transparency and trust in science, are just as essential to addressing any number of critical challenges facing our society today. Our new journals, PLOS Climate, PLOS Digital Health, PLOS Global Public Health, PLOS Sustainability and Transformation, and PLOS Water are built on the foundation of Open Science principles PLOS is known for with a commitment to bridge gaps between disciplines and regions to facilitate visibility, trust, and reuse of rigorous research. These new journals welcome researchers from new communities of practice to work alongside PLOS in achieving our mission, serving as vehicles for change in their respective fields.

Engaging with research communities globally

In the first of many steps we are taking to integrate local research practices and feedback from all regions into our business, PLOS partnered with TCC Africa to exchange knowledge, work with leaders across the continent to encourage Open Science adoption, and ensure PLOS’ solutions address regional challenges. We also established an office in Germany with plans to continue expanding in order to welcome staff from all parts of the world in directly shaping our activities and how we engage with local researchers. In all parts of our business, we’ve set goals to ensure our organization and our journals are represented by and amplifying visibility of a broad range of voices. Across all PLOS journals we established a policy on inclusion in global research to improve transparency in reporting on research conducted in other countries and deter “parachute” research. Our first ever Scientists 4 Open Science event this year invited researchers from around the world to share their vision for the future of Open research communication.

Reducing barriers to Open Science

We are continuing our work to advance fair and equitable opportunities to publish by ensuring financial barriers never prevent authors from choosing to make their work Open. Our new broad-scope journals aim to bring together rigorous research from diverse local settings in order to broaden the foundation of knowledge that is accessible to a global audience. In order to support the mission of those journals, we developed our Global Equity model which provides regionally equitable pricing for partner institutions to eliminate author publication fees. We also expanded our Flat Fees and Community Action Publishing agreements to support new author communities with fee-free publishing options across our portfolio.

Understanding and advancing open research practices

To further investigate the challenges faced by researchers in making their work Open, and the ways the scholarly ecosystem influences these decisions, PLOS’ Open Research team conducted and shared their findings from studies investigating data and code-sharing practices at PLOS to measures of credibility and impact when assessing research. What we learn, we put into practice at PLOS to improve our service to authors, and–like the researchers who publish in our journals–make our findings publicly available to accelerate progress. This year we partnered with medRxiv to facilitate preprint submissions to PLOS journals and also partnered with to offer peer-reviewed Lab and Study Protocols article types at PLOS ONE. And at PLOS Pathogens, we received a Wellcome grant to experiment with a new service to facilitate data deposition in the Dryad repository in order to increase better data-sharing practices that extend the longevity and reusability of research data.

Co-creating pathways to Open Science 

We recognize Open Science cannot be truly equitable when it is too fully shaped by the perspectives of select communities. We will always have more work to do in making science, and the process of publishing science fair and equitable for every researcher. This year we laid the groundwork for a number of initiatives that make PLOS a more global and inclusive organization. We are excited to see our new relationships with organizations and researchers around the world continue to grow in the coming years, and to learn how we can work together to open opportunities for all researchers to enhance the rigor, transparency, and reusability of their research. Together, we can shape solutions not only at a journal level, but across all facets of the scholarly ecosystem, to accelerate progress in making research communication more open, effective and fair. 

2021 Highlights (see figures below for a fuller picture)

  • As of December 31st, 2021, PLOS had net assets of $24.5 million, improved by more than $2 million compared to the previous year’s $22.1 million.
  • Of the 2021 year-end net assets, cash and unrestricted investments totaled $16 million compared to $14.0  million at year-end 2020.
  • For the year ending December 31st, 2021, PLOS generated total revenues of $37.7 million compared to total revenues of $34.1 million for the year ending December 31st, 2020.
  • 2021 total expenses of $32.5 million compared with $31.1 million in 2020.
  • 2021 yielded a net operating surplus of $5.2 million compared to a net operating surplus of $3.0 million in 2020.
  • PLOS provided $3.3 million in annual Publication Fee Assistance.  

PLOS and Price Transparency

PLOS is committed to transparency in all its forms. In 2020 the Open Access organization Plan S created a Price & Service Transparency Framework which became a requirement for Plan S compliance in July 2022. We have committed to participate in and share our reporting from that framework each year, in addition to this Financial Overview. 

View 2021 price transparency data and commentary on The Official PLOS Blog

2021 Financial statement

Total Expenses, Inclusive of Capitalized Development Costs and Publication Fee Support

2021 financial donut chart showing total expenses
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