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2019 Financial Overview

Revitalized for new challenges

2018 was a year of significant change for PLOS as we reshaped and resized the organization for a new future in a changed publishing environment. In 2019 we continued streamlining and sharpened our focus on building the capabilities and resources to advance our mission to transform the ways in which research is shared. This work has been difficult, but it’s gratifying to see our efforts result in a modest surplus in 2019 that has grown significantly in 2020. From this strengthened foundation, we’re excited to reinvest in driving our mission forward in partnership with research communities around the world. 

Listening to our research communities and their distinct needs

As we continue to shape PLOS for the future, we’ve made it a priority to increase our capacity not only to listen, but to seek out and surface voices from diverse research communities. We formed a dedicated research team to gain deeper insights into how we, as publishers, can take action to break barriers faced by researchers in a particular discipline, or at specific moments in their careers. Giving researchers more control in how they represent and share their work has been a key motivator in our expanded preprint options, published peer review and other tools for reviewer credit, as well as the development of new business models for Open Access. 

Increasing trust through Open Science 

PLOS articles have always been Open Access. But trust in science goes far beyond being able to read or share an article. Making research more accessible at every stage for discussion, reuse and improvement empowers researchers to advance trusted science, faster. This philosophy fed directly into our preprint commenting initiatives and informed our thinking for preregistration options at PLOS ONE and PLOS Biology.  Practices that increase collaboration and transparency throughout the research process will continue to be an important part of new policies and offerings. 

Making Open Access more accessible to all

We’re working in partnership to create a more equitable future for Open Access. In conversation with libraries, funders, and researchers in 2019, we laid the groundwork for new business models that ensure publication costs will not be a barrier for researchers to make their work Open. Two of these models, Flat Fees and Community Action Publishing will officially launch as pilots in 2021. We, collectively, still have much work ahead to transform the financial accessibility of Open Access, but we have met a number of eager partners who share our commitment to make “open to read, open to publish” options a reality.

 

2019 Highlights (see figures below for a fuller picture)

  • As of December 31st, 2019, PLOS had net assets of $11.8 million, improved by $1.1 million compared to the previous year’s $10.7 million.
  • Of the 2019 year-end net assets, cash and unrestricted investments totaled $12.5 million compared to $11.5 million at year-end 2018.
  • For the year ending December 31st, 2019, PLOS generated total revenues of $31.6 million compared to total revenues of $31.7 million for the year ending December 31st, 2018. 
  • 2019 total expenses of $30.5 million compared with $38 million in 2018.
  • 2019 yielded a net operating surplus of $1.1m compared to a net operating deficit of $6.3m in 2018.
  • PLOS provided $1.7 million in annual Publication Fee Assistance. 

 

Positioning PLOS for greater impact

Streamlining and sharpening our focus means making the way we work more intentional, collaborative, and forward-looking. And we are both keenly aware and emboldened by the work yet to be done in order to advance Open Science. The events of this year have underscored the need for more decisive action in eliminating barriers to inclusion and global collaboration. Science belongs to everyone and it should represent every voice. As we transform science communication in the years to come, we’ll be looking to the ways we can empower researchers, libraries, and institutions to shape our collective future. Together, we’ll pave more paths to a future of Open Science that we can all participate in.

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