PLOS ONE unveiled its new e-journal platform last month, with subject area browsing capability made possible by the PLOS thesaurus. The thesaurus was constructed by Access Innovations in 2012 and refined in collaboration with PLOS since then. PLOS ONE is an open access, peer-reviewed scientific journal published since 2006. It covers primary research from all disciplines within science and medicine.

The interface allows the user to easily drill down to more specific content within a field, or move up in the hierarchy to find broader works.


“Between our ONE customizable journal alert feature and the new home page, we now have two ways for users to browse through the subject area hierarchy in their search for relevant content,” remarks Jonas Dupuich, Product Manager at PLOS.

The hierarchy goes down several levels, getting more specific as it goes, and the display also enables a user to see other related items within each level, and how many articles are present for each topic. The subject terms are clear and concise, and their placement in each category is understandable and easy to predict. The hierarchy structure allows subject area terms to have more than one broader term, reflecting the interconnected nature of science, and the browser allows the user to navigate via all possible routes.

As Rachel Drysdale, PLOS Taxonomy Manager, explains “Not only does this feature provide excellent access to articles where the user knows what they are looking for, it allows the reader to find unexpected interconnections and be taken to articles that they would not have discovered with a straight text-based search tool.”

When a searcher accesses any given article, hierarchy terms appear again on the right, showing the user how he/she got to this article. There are even features to flag terms that come up incorrectly, making the system more accurate with every click.


The hierarchy, which is one view of the PLOS Thesaurus built by Access Innovations, was created to help PLOS index their articles more easily. “In the world of digital content, taxonomies and thesauri are integral to creating a user-friendly platform where information can be found with ease. We wanted to create a thesaurus for PLOS that would enhance their already cutting-edge techniques,” says Gabe Carr, Project Manager at Access Innovations. With more than 96,000 articles, PLOS is a leader of open-access publishing, and needed a thesaurus robust and rich enough to cover topics in science, from the most general to the most granular. Now, searching for articles on “monsoons” or “petrified wood” or “neuropsychology” is much easier, using the PLOS ONE platform.


About Access Innovations, Inc. –,,

Founded in 1978, Access Innovations has extensive experience with Internet technology applications, master data management, database creation, thesaurus/taxonomy creation, and semantic integration. Access Innovations’ Data Harmony software includes automatic indexing, thesaurus management, an XML Intranet System (XIS), and metadata extraction for content creation developed to meet production environment needs.  Data Harmony is used by publishers, governments, and corporate clients throughout the world.


About the Public Library of Science (PLOS) –,

The Public Library of Science (PLOS) is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. PLOS engages in outreach activities that promote open access and innovations in the communication of research for scientists and the public. 2013 marks PLOS’s tenth year as an open access publisher, reaching an international audience through immediate and free availability of research on the Internet. PLOS publishes a suite of seven journals: PLOS Biology, PLOS Medicine, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Pathogens, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, and PLOS ONE, which publishes research from more than 50 diverse scientific fields and is the largest journal in the world.