Perhaps the most useful feature, though, is sadly underutilized. Imagine this—you're reading a paper and you come across an error, or a questionable inference, or an unclear point. With printed journals, you have the following options:
- Write to the editor and/or primary author and hope they have a moment to respond.
- Complain to whomever will listen.
- Write a frustrated note in the margin and move on.
- Fume silently.
But with PLoS ONE, you can accomplish #1–3 all at once. (And #4, if you want.) Simply log in, highlight the text you want to comment on (or click on "Leave a general comment"), and you can leave a publicly-visible note that anyone, authors and editors included, can respond to.
People have been slow to take advantage of this wonderful system, but it's starting to take off, I think. As many are aware, there's been a big media hubbub about a new fossil primate (Darwinius masillae) that may or may not be a stem-haplorhine (i.e., part of the group that gave rise to tarsiers and monkeys, including apes, including humans). I've seen a lot of discussion of it in various venues, and some of that is finally starting to spill over into the paper's comments section. (You may note a couple of comments left by myself.)
One notable outcome of the discussion on Darwinius is the rectification of an incompatibility between PLoS ONE's publication methods and the current requirements of the ICZN. This meant that the new scientific names published in the journal (e.g., "Darwinius", "Darwinius masillae") were nomenclaturally unavailable. Happily, this was quickly resolved, and the remedy was also carried out for the names introduced in some earlier papers.
Other discussions, on such topics as the scoring of characters as "Derived" or "Primitive", are still ongoing.
PLoS ONE also allows readers to rate the articles and leave reviews. (As of this writing, there is one review by Andy Farke, and I think he makes some excellent points.)
Science open to everyone! Go ahead—get involved.