In 2006, the Public Library of Science launched an experiment with PLOS ONE \u2013 a journal that would publish all technically sound research papers, regardless of impact (the first megajournal). For over 300 years, this was impossible to do because journals were printed and had limited physical space. No single journal could welcome all good manuscripts from all biomedical fields. Moreover, the subscription model also does not work for megajournals due to fluctuating number of papers published per year.\n\u00a0\nAs with any new experiments, there were countless naysayers who thought this would never work. The past decade has conclusively established that this model is welcome, needed, and sustainable. Just look at the explosion in the number of articles published in megajournals:\n\u00a0\n\n[Total number of articles published in 11 mega-journals (Plos One, Scientific Reports, Medicine, and others: BMC Research Notes, BMJ Open, AIP Advances, SpringerPlus, PeerJ, SAGE Open, F1000 Research and FEBS Open Bio). Includes projected figures for 2016.\nhttps:\/\/www.timeshighereducation.com\/blog\/mega-journals-future-stepping-stone-it-or-leap-abyss]\n\u00a0\nHowever, the extraordinary success of the open access megajournals has brought about common criticisms against this model. Some academics and publishers have been voicing concerns about the impact on the quality of science communication. The arguments that I have heard most often are:\n\n \u00a0 These journals have led to an explosion of the number of published papers. It\u2019s now impossible to stay on top of the literature.\n \u00a0 Megajournals do not do peer review (or, they do \u201cpeer review light\u201d).\n \u00a0 Given the author-pays business model, these journals have an incentive to publish everything, so even if the reviews are bad, they publish to make more money.\n \u00a0 The megajournals are full of disasters and retractions.\n \u00a0 We have enough journals; megajournals improve nothing and suck up oxygen from good existing journals.\n\n\u00a0\nEach of the above is demonstrably false, so let\u2019s go through them one-by-one carefully.\n\u00a0\n1. These journals have led to an explosion of the number of published papers. It\u2019s now impossible to stay on top of the literature.\n\u00a0\nIt is true that there has been an explosion, but growth in total published biomdical papers has been a feature of every decade starting in the early 1900s. Every decade of the 20th century has seen a 1.3-1.5x increase over the previous ten years (exceptions are 1940-1949 and 1950-1959 which saw approximately sixfold and fourfold increases).\n\u00a0\n\n[PubMed query;\u00a0totals available here]\n\u00a0\nThe increases in total published papers papers throughout the 20th century are dramatic, but they are a function of increased biomedical funding and total number of scientists doing research. There were no megajournals in the 20th century. \n\u00a0\nIn 2016, there were 1,257,885 papers indexed in PubMed; the biomedical megajournals combined published about 50,000-60,000 of them. \n\u00a0\n2. Megajournals do not do peer review (or, they do \u201cpeer review light\u201d).\n\u00a0\nThat\u2019s a malicious myth which seems to have been intentionally spread by several authors of the publisher-funded Scholarly Kitchen. See \u201cHow a sustained misinformation campaign by Scholarly Kitchen attacked PLOS ONE\u2019s rigorous peer review.\u201d \n\u00a0\nAlso,\u00a0do read the fascinating and infuriating,\u00a0PR's 'pit bull' takes on open access. It's a report in Nature News on leaked emails showing that publishers hired Eric Dezenhall\u00a0('pit bull of public relations' who\u00a0is famous for helping crisis management for clients such as\u00a0the now-jailed\u00a0Jeffrey Skilling of Enron) for a half a million dollars to help them\u00a0fight PLOS and the open access movement. It's one juicy and jaw-dropping article, with things like:\n\u00a0\nThe consultant advised them to focus on simple messages, such as 'Public access equals government censorship'. He hinted that the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review, and 'paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles'.\n\u00a0\n\u00a0\n3. Given the author-pays business model, these journals have an incentive to publish everything, so even if the reviews are bad, they publish to make more money.\n\u00a0\nThat\u2019s not how any of these journals are set up. The decision to accept or reject a paper is made by academic editors, not by the publisher employees. According to the Joerg Heber, Editor-in-Chief of PLOS ONE, their journal currently rejects about 50% of submissions.\n\u00a0\nYes, the megajournals charge authors to publish and the more they accept, the higher the revenue. However, plenty of subscription journals charge authors hefty sums as well, on top of the subscription fees they get from the libraries. For example, my 2013 PNAS paper had $3,500 in page charges, plus a $1,000 open access fee.\n\n\u00a0\nThere is a simple reason explaining why journals do not publish everything, whether open access or subscription. It\u2019s because their reputations are the true foundations of their revenue, and if you accept poor quality papers one year for extra income, you will pay dearly in the years to come as submissions drop.\n\u00a0\nMoreover, I just listened yesterday at the NFAIS OA conference to a talk from the publisher Taylor and Francis on their experience of converting subscription journals to full immediate open access.\u00a0Fiona Counsell described the 2017 conversion of twenty T&F journals, with seven more in the process of conversion right now. Amazingly, she showed that after the switch to OA, the quality of submissions has\u00a0gone up. Apparently, 'desk rejections' by the editors at these 20 journals are down 12%, and the editors are thrilled with the increase in manuscript quality.\n\u00a0\n4. The megajournals are full of disasters and retractions.\n\u00a0\nWhen I point out the above arguments, the retort is often, \u201cif they peer review and are not biased by the author-pays business model, why are there so many scandals?\u201d\n\u00a0\nBut in the decade 2006-2015, PLOS ONE had 61 retractions, out of 143,996 papers published in those years. That compares very favorably to other journals.\n\n[PubMed query for retractions; totals available\u00a0here]\n\u00a0\nEvery research journal publishes papers that are wrong. That is inevitable. What is dramatically different for megajournals isn\u2019t the fraction of problems. As Joerg Heber pointed out to me, what is different is the scale - the total number of published papers. A publisher with 100 journals might publish 20,000-30,000 papers in a year across all 100, while Scientific Reports and PLOS ONE publish that many in a single journal. So the regular publisher will have the retractions and scandals spread across a hundred different journals, while Scientific Reports will have them concentrated in one. This creates the illusion of a higher rate of problems.\n\u00a0\n(Retraction rates do rise over time as it takes time to spot errors and fraud, so the rate for PLOS ONE may inch up over the next decade.)\n\n5. We have enough journals; megajournals improve nothing and suck up oxygen from good existing journals.\n\u00a0\nThis seems logically inconsistent to me. If there are enough journals and there is no need for the megajournals, why are they so wildly successful? Especially considering the need to pay to publish in megajournals, why would authors choose to do so if they could save the money and use one of the other 26,000 journals in PubMed?\n\u00a0\nClearly, megajournals are providing something unique. \n\u00a0\nAlso, as I\u2019ve written a few months ago, megajournals make it possible to correct errors in published papers.\n-----------------------------------------------------------------\n\u00a0\nI know there are legitimate criticisms and concerns when it comes to PLOS ONE, PeerJ, Scientific Reports, and other megajournals. There are well-grounded worries about the author-pays model and the burden it places on institutions, labs, fields, and countries that do not have sufficient funding. The staff at\u00a0the megajournals journals certainly have no shortage of work or ideas for improving the quality and user experience. Good thing they can focus on the real problems and ignore the fake ones above.\n\u00a0\n-----------------------------------------------------------------\n\u00a0\nP.S. On a related note, my older post\u00a0'It\u2019s not \u201cPublish or Perish\u201d but rather \u201cDo Great Science\u201d\u00a0is relevant for the biggest misconception of all --\u00a0 'Nature\/Science\/Cell paper is a prerequisite for getting a faculty job.'\n\u00a0\nP.P.S. I would like to thank Pete Binfield and William Gunn for their review and comments on this post. I also thank @AngieNmnh\u00a0for her thoughts and input on megajournals.