(Image modified from: PLOS,\u00a02012 Logo of PLOS ONE, CC-BY-SA)\n\u00a0\n[Note, March 27, 2017:\u00a0The original title above was 'How a sustained misinformation campaign by publishers attacked PLOS ONE\u2019s rigorous peer review.' The Society of Scholarly Publishers objected to this headline and the blog post with an open letter. I am editing the headline and post as noted.]\n\u00a0\nI know first-hand just how thorough peer review is at PLOS ONE as I published one paper there and had another rejected because of flaws that we initially missed. Some scientists\u00a0even complain that PLOS ONE actually rejects too much.\n\u00a0\nHow much to reject is a tricky balancing act for a megajournal. Accept too much, and you are a \u201cdumping ground\u201d; reject too much and you\u2019re an 'evil gate-keeper'. The solution seems to be precisely what PLOS ONE does \u2013 aim for rigorous\u00a0peer review\u00a0and publish works that pass it. A week ago,\u00a0Editor-in-Chief Joerg Heber told me that\u00a0PLOS ONE publishes 50% of the submitted manuscripts.\n\u00a0\nOf course, rejections are editorial decisions and are a function of the quality of submitted papers and the journal policy and mission. The policy at PLOS ONE has been crystal clear from before they launched in 2006: perform rigorous peer review and publish papers that are likely to be correct, regardless of their possible impact, fame, buzz, or future citations. In other words, PLOS ONE aims to make acceptance decisions based on the peer review and how sound each manuscript is, rather than based on how much it may increase the journal\u2019s impact factor.\n\u00a0\nIn a sense, the PLOS ONE model actually results in published papers that may be more trustworthy than those at the glam journals. Any given paper may or may not be correct about its conclusions and results, but you know that the paper is published because the peer reviewers thought the methods and claims are reasonable, not because an editor thought it would make headlines in the media. In fact, a senior editor of one of the most selective biomedical journals told me this summer:\n\u00a0\nWe are thinking of moving to a PLOS ONE style review. As is, our reviewers are so obsessed with the question of whether the given paper is worth JournalX, they often fail to review the methods and results and to answer the question, \u201cIs this paper likely to be true?\u201d\n\u00a0\nA former Editor-in-Chief of a Nature-family journal confirmed the above, saying \u201cNature often passed down rejected papers to us, along with the reviews. Often, those reviews were worthless and we needed to send the paper out for re-review.\u201d\n\u00a0\nSo, PLOS ONE doesn\u2019t publish anything without peer review and the peer review they do is as rigorous, if not more so, than at other journals. Yet, I have lost count of the times a scientist told me that PLOS ONE doesn\u2019t do peer review, publishes everything, or does \u201cpeer review light\u201d. In an informal Twitter poll I ran on this, it is clear that many have heard this misconception about the peer review at PLOS ONE.\n\u00a0\n\n\u00a0\nHow did it start and why did it catch? I did some digging, and here is a public timeline of the campaign by the Scholarly Kitchen from the Society of Scholarly Publishers* to undermine the trust in PLOS ONE\u2019s peer review.\n\u00a0\n---------------------------------------------\n1. [Oct 5, 2006] Right before the\u00a0launch, Harvard's Crimson publishes a hit piece Keep Science in Print\u00a0claiming that\u00a0PLOS ONE\u00a0will do no peer review whatsoever. This blatant falsehood drew a strong rebuke from the research community and a rebuttal from the co-founder of PLOS Mike Eisen.\n\u00a0\n2. [July 2, 2008] Nature News\u00a0publishes PLoS stays afloat with bulk publishing\u00a0where they say, 'PLoS One uses a system of 'light' peer-review to publish any article considered methodologically sound.' Where does this 'light' come from? What does it mean? No one knows, and this is the tactic that\u00a0publishers then seem to latch on to. Full lies of 'no peer review' are easily debunked, but the softer yet pejorative 'light' is much harder to counter.\n\u00a0\nThe same year as the above Nature News\u00a0piece, The Society for Scholarly Publishers\u00a0(SSP) launches the blog The Scholarly Kitchen\u00a0to further its mission of advancing scholarly publishing. Note that Elsevier, Wiley, Taylor & Francis and other big publishers are among SSPs organizational members. This is where the hammering of PLOS ONE\u00a0as\u00a0'peer review light' seems to really take off.\n\u00a0\n3. [April 20, 2009] The contributors to Scholarly Kitchen get into the habit of denigrating\u00a0PLOS ONE at every opportunity. Here, Phil Davis writes, 'Perhaps it is because PLoS One conducts only \u201clite\u201d editorial review and not full peer-review.' He is instantly corrected by PLOS, 'the nasty myth that PLoS ONE peer-review is \u201clite\u201d needs to be eradicated before it spreads too far out \u2013 check out what our editors say about the reviewing process in the interviews. Not just that the peer-review at PLoS ONE is as rigorous as anywhere, but many feel that the elimination of the \u201cnovelty and earth-shakiness\u201d criterion actually makes the peer-review more rigorous than in GlamourMagz.'\n\u00a0\n4. [April 2010] Kent Anderson writes PLoS\u2019 Squandered Opportunity \u2014 Their Problems with the Path of Least Resistance\u00a0with shots like, 'Now, because of its reliance on PLoSONE and revenues from bulk publishing, PLoS is teetering on the edge of becoming viewed as a low-quality, high-volume publisher' and 'Noise, chaff, and pollution in science should be controlled upstream by scholarly publishers. Journals are well-positioned to make a difference here, but the way PLoSONE and similar publishers are bulk-processing manuscripts into journal dress could possibly devalue the journal form at its roots.'\n\u00a0\n5. [June 21, 2010] Phil Davis in his PLoS ONE: Is a High Impact Factor a Blessing or a Curse?\u00a0again says that PLOS ONE does 'light' peer review.\u00a0\n\u00a0\nIvan Baxtr, one of the editors from\u00a0PLOS ONE\u00a0comments,\n\u00a0\nEvery time I click over to Scholarly Kitchen I get frustrated by the words the SK authors use to describe the PloS ONE: \u201clight peer-review\u201d, we only check for technical accuracy.\n\u00a0\nI am the plant biology editor for Plos ONE and I have also reviewed for all the highest impact factor Plant journals. There is basically no difference in the peer review I do for these journals. The completely arbitrary and subjective \u201csignificance call\u201d being the only difference. In fact I rarely say anything about significance in the review.\n\u00a0\nNot only do we check for technical accuracy, we also check that the conclusions that they draw from the experiments are supported, and that the papers meet standards for readability, ethics, availability etc. This means that the papers we publish are of good quality.\n\u00a0\n\u00a0Phil Davis acknowledges Ivan's comment and promises to refrain from using 'light' in the future. Even the head of Scholarly Kitchen, David Crotty, joins the discussion and admits that 'light' is pejorative\u00a0(David also says that he and others at Scholarly Kitchen choose their words carefully when discussing PLOS).\u00a0\n\u00a0\nOf course, nothing changes after the above discussion.\u00a0\n\u00a0\n6. [June 28, 2011] Same Phil Davis writes PLoS ONE's 2010 Impact Factor\u00a0with this gem, 'Given the choice of submitting to a highly-selective, rigorously-reviewed, and a meticulously copy-edited specialist journal with a commensurate impact factor, the benefits of PLoS ONE are quite apparent, if not as a first-choice for initial submission, then as a second alternative when one\u2019s manuscript is rejected.' He doesn't use the term 'light', but clearly contrasts 'rigorous peer review' at other journals to the process at\u00a0PLOS ONE.\n\u00a0\n7. [Jan 28, 2013] The New Face of the Professional Society\u00a0by Joseph Esposito\u00a0discusses megajournals and mentions that\u00a0PLOS ONE uses\u00a0\u201cpeer-review light\u201d .\n\u00a0\n8. [Nov. 19, 2013] Joseph Esposito in\u00a0The Natural Limits of Gold Open Access\u00a0calls\u00a0PLOS ONE\u00a0peer review 'scaled back', writing, 'Peer review, whether of the full-bodied kind practiced by such established journals as Nature and The Lancet or the scaled-back variety championed by PLoS ONE, nudges the least promising authors out of our line of vision.'\n\u00a0\n9. [Dec. 3, 2013] In How PLoS ONE Can Have It All, Joseph Esposito states, 'But PLoS ONE is not an editorial shop. In fact, it brags that it does not make judgments about the quality of its articles'\u00a0and again says that\u00a0PLOS ONE 'does a\u00a0scaled-down form of peer review'.\n\u00a0\n\u00a0\n\u00a0\nI stopped combing Scholarly Kitchen after 2013. After all, the head of Scholarly Kitchen, David Crotty, said that their writers choose their words carefully. Looking at the above, I believe him.\n\u00a0\n---------------------------------\n* The original post contained: 'How did it start and why did it catch? I did some digging, and here is a public timeline of the campaign by publishers\u00a0to undermine the trust in PLOS ONE\u2019s peer review.' I changed 'publishers' to 'the Scholarly Kitchen from the Society of Scholarly Publishers' on 3\/23\/2017.