Open Access depositories and online journals are an excellent free source of non-patent literature (NPL) prior art. Today I’d like to highlight a popular open access publisher that I first heard about through a CHMINF listserv discussion: the Public Library of Science (PLoS). PLoS describes itself as “a non-profit publisher, membership, and advocacy organization,” and PLoS produces seven peer-reviewed online journals that users can search and view for free. PLoS also produces a number of Currents, blogs, Hubs, and Collections, which discuss or aggregate content around specific scientific topics.
Continue reading to learn about the open access content produced by PLoS, and we’ll also look at how you can search through this NPL content!
- PLoS ONE – Users can submit their own work to PLoS One, and “the peer review process does not judge the importance of the work, rather focuses on whether the work is done to high scientific and ethical standards and is appropriately described, and that the data support the conclusions.” The site includes tools for commentary and rating of articles.
- PLoS Biology – This journal covers “all areas of biological science, from molecules to ecosystems, including works at the interface of other disciplines, such as chemistry, medicine, and mathematics.”
- PLoS Medicine – “The journal publishes papers that have relevance across a range of settings and that address the major environmental, social, and political determinants of health, as well as the biological. The journal gives the highest priority to papers on the conditions and risk factors that cause the highest mortality and burden of disease worldwide.”
- PLoS Computational Biology – This journal “makes connections among disparate areas of biology by featuring works that provide substantial new insight into living systems at all scales — including molecular science, neuroscience, physiology, and population biology—through the application of computational methods.”
- PLoS Genetics – This journal covers genetics and genomics research, including “all areas of biology, from mice and flies to plants and bacteria.”
- PLoS Pathogens – This journal publishes articles “on bacteria, fungi, parasites, prions, and viruses that contribute to our understanding of the biology of pathogens and pathogen–host interactions.”
- PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases – This journal covers “scientific, medical, and public health aspects” of neglected tropical diseases.
Other publications produced by PLoS include:
- PLoS Currents provides an online publication channel for new scientific research and ideas organized by focused research areas (Disasters, Evidence on Genomic Tests, Huntington Disease, Influenza, Muscular Dystrophy, and Tree of Life). It aims to minimize the delay between the generation and publication of new research and publishes content that is peer-reviewed; citable; publicly archived in PubMed; and indexed by Scopus.
- PLoS Blogs is a network for discussing science and medicine in public. This platform covers topics in research, culture, and publishing.
- PLoS Hubs are sites that aggregate existing content published in other journals. PLoS Hubs: Clinical Trials is limited to PLoS content. In Fall 2010, this Hub was joined by the PLoS Hubs: Biodiversity, which extends beyond PLoS into other open-access content from PubMed Central.
- PLoS Collections highlight content on a specific topic that has been gathered together from one or more PLoS titles. There are over 50 collections to date.
Searching and Viewing PLoS Content
A quick keyword search form is available on each journal homepage in the upper right corner, which searches only within that specific journal. A “Browse” option below the quick search form allows users to browse through articles from that journal organized by publication date or subject from within a date range (past week/month/3 months) or published on a specific date. Users can also select the “RSS” option to subscribe to an RSS feed that is updated as new articles are posted to a particular PLoS journal.
If a user wants to search across multiple PLoS journals simultaneously, they can select the “Advanced Search” option beside the quick search form on any PLoS journal homepage. The Advanced Search form for PLoS is a command-line interface that aids users in constructing the search query by providing a drop-down menu of fields and a text field to add field-specific terms to the query. The user can also edit the query directly within the command-line form, and search instructions and tips (including allowed Boolean and truncation operators) are displayed to the right of the search form. Below the command-line form, users can choose to search through some or all available journals and other PLoS publications (Collections and Hub for Clinical Trials). The user can also choose to filter results by subject category and by article type. Finally, a form for locating a specific article (by journal, volume number, eNumber, or DOI) is located beside the command-line form.
After conducting a search on any PLoS journal site, users are presented with a list of results, which users can further filter by journal, subject categories, or article type. A column on the right-hand side of the results lists recent searches and related search suggestions (authors, editors, and institutions). Each search result includes the title, author, journal citation information, a text excerpt with keywords bolded, and a series of links indication number of views, whether the article has citations, and whether the article has bookmarks.
When viewing a full document record, a number of tabs allow you to view the full article, various metrics on the article, related content, or comments. Users can add notes to the article, download the text (or text citation), print the article, or share the article via email or various social media platforms.
Open access NPL journals like PLoS are only one tool in an enormous box of available resources that professional patent searchers will utilize during a prior art search. Each resource has the potential to contribute a valuable piece of prior art, however, so it’s always useful when the resource provides excellent search and navigation options through its interface.
Do you think that open access journals are good sources of prior art? Let us know in the comments!
This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.