The launch of PLoS Currents: Influenza begins a novel and interesting experiment in OA publishing. See: A new website for the rapid sharing of influenza research, Harold Varmus, PLoS Blog (August 20, 2009) and the PLoS Currents FAQs. An excerpt from the answer to one of the FAQs:
There are currently no publication charges for PLoS Currents. However, it is possible that we will introduce a small publication charge in future to cover the running costs.
The launch of the first PLos Currents has generated a number of commentaries, including:
Introducing PLoS Currents: Influenza, Coturnix (Bora Zivkovic), A Blog Around the Clock (August 21, 2009); Finally a Good Use for Google Knol: Sharing Information About Flu Research, Frederic Lardinois, ReadWriteWeb (August 20, 2009); Varmus Gets His Preprint Server, Jocelyn Kaiser, ScienceInsider (August 21, 2009); E-Biomed 2.0? Richard Poynder, Open and Shut? (August 22, 2009); Science publishing on the fast lane, plus optionally in journals, Daniel Mietchen, Fund Science blog (August 30, 2009) [FriendFeed entry][Twitter entry]; PLoS Currents Uses Google Knol Collections Feature for Swine Flu Reports, Barbara Quint, Information Today (August 31, 2009).
If the first experiment with PLoS Currents: Influenza is a successful one, there will be further PLoS Currents sites. I’ve seen no speculation about the probable research theme for the next site. What might be some appropriate criteria for the selection of an appropriate research theme? Criteria that appear to be met by the first research theme (influenza) are: #1) The research field is a very active one; #2) The research field is recognized to have important practical applications; #3) A substantial amount of translational research is already under way; #4) A credible board of expert moderators can be assembled; #5) Some outstanding researchers in the field will agree to submit contributions for inclusion in the launch site. [See also this FriendFeed entry (WebCite cache)].
Another five criteria could be added to this list: #6) There is much public interest in the research field; #7) The research field is neither so large that it yields an unmanageable numbers of contributions, nor so small that it yields very few; #8) The problems addressed by the research field have implications for large numbers of people; #9) These problems are (or potentially are) global in their reach; and, #10) Most of the methods used in the research field are well-established ones that experienced moderators are able to evaluate.
It will be of interest, when the next PLoS Currents is launched, to see how many of these proposed criteria are met. One biomedical field that merits consideration is “Regenerative Medicine”. See, for example, these two Gratis OA editorials in the journal Regenerative Medicine, 2009(May);4(3):329-331 and 2007(Jan);2(1):11-18.