“… as published in PeerJ” — PeerJ articles making headlines in our first 5 years!

PeerJ articles are viewed and downloaded by millions of readers in hundreds of countries. As we celebrate five years of disseminating scientific research, we are pleased to highlight some of the headline-making research published in PeerJ and PeerJ Computer Science. With over 4,500 articles peer reviewed and published in just 5 years we are proud to be an established and reputable innovator in academic communication.

PeerJ authors and their articles have received print, online, radio and video coverage in worldwide and international news media outlets including ABC News, BBC News, CNN, Discovery News, Der Spiegel, Der Zeit, El Pais, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, National Geographic, National Public Radio, Nature, Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Science, Scientific American, The Telegraph, TIME, Wired, The Washington Post, and many more.

From research which aims to protect vulnerable species to examining gender bias in computer coding, or studying our microbiomes — scientists are working to make a difference and they are eager to communicate their research to the public. When researchers publish with us, their work can be freely read by anyone. This is one of the main benefits of open access publishing and we are extremely proud to be a part of this collective outreach effort every day.

And so without further ado…. Here is a selection of PeerJ articles that were particularly “hot off the press keyboard” during our first five years:

Brontosaurus is back! The iconic long-necked dinosaur was not Apatosaurus after all

Although well known as one of the most iconic dinosaurs, Brontosaurus (the ‘thunder lizard’) has long been considered misclassified. Since 1903, the scientific community has believed that the genus Brontosaurus was, in fact, the Apatosaurus. Now, an exhaustive new study by paleontologists from Portugal and the UK provides conclusive evidence that Brontosaurus is distinct from Apatosaurus and as such can now be reinstated as its own unique genus much to the delight of dinosaur fans around the globe.

Read the open access article: A specimen-level phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision of Diplodocidae (Dinosauria, Sauropoda).
View the big splash of news coverage in our blog post including coverage from The New York Times and Scientific American.

Seven new miniaturized frog species found in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest

Following nearly 5 years of exploration in mountainous areas of the southern Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, a team of researchers has uncovered seven new species of a highly miniaturized, brightly colored frog genus known as Brachycephalus. These frogs are among the smallest terrestrial vertebrates, with adult sizes often not exceeding 1 cm in length, leading to a variety of changes in their body structure, such as reduction in the number of toes and fingers. They are remarkably endemic, being restricted to cloud forests in one or a few adjacent mountaintops, thus making them highly vulnerable to extinction, particularly due to shifts in the distribution of cloud forest due to climate change.

Article: Seven new microendemic species of Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) from southern Brazil

First underwater video footage of the True´s beaked whale

The True´s beaked whale is a deep-diving mammal so rarely seen that it often defies recognition at sea by researchers. As a result, we have little data about its distribution, abundance and calving rate – information essential for its conservation. The authors obtained the first images of a calf along with the first underwater video of these whales – helping to reveal the secrets of this elusive species. The video received over 600,000 views, and at one point was trending on the YouTube homepage! View the video for yourself here.

Article: True’s beaked whale (Mesoplodon mirus) in Macaronesia
View news coverage here.

Sizing up the giants that live in the ocean. Research team corrects inaccuracies and elucidates measurements for 25 marine species.

Researchers sifted through multiple datasets and historical records to produce more accurate and comprehensive size measurements for 25 species including the Blue Whale, Giant Squid, and Great White Shark. The team, made up of a mix of scientists and students, also utilized social media to promote the research and to reach potential collaborators from across the world. The resulting data was made into the graphical abstract pictured above. The graphic is available for all to freely view and download. It has been widely used in classrooms along with fascinating the “scientist” in many of us. Viewed nearly 80,000 times, this study has made a significant impact on the field.

Article: Sizing ocean giants: patterns of intraspecific size variation in marine megafauna
Download and print the full-size infographic (available under CC BY 4.0) here and read more about the study in our blog post.

Survey reveals massive decline in African savannah elephant population

In this article, the authors’ conducted an “Elephant census” of sorts, uncovering the grave extent of the declining elephant population in Africa. The results of the survey will inform major conservation policy decisions across the globe in an effort to ensure African elephants’ survival. Their work received wide news coverage and has received nearly 30 citations to date.

Article: Continent-wide survey reveals massive decline in African savannah elephants

First-of-its-kind global analysis indicates leopards have lost nearly 75 percent of their historic range

This study’s findings challenged assumptions about the species’ status and found worrying declines, especially in Asia. The research found that leopards historically occupied a vast range of approximately 35 million square kilometers throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Today, however, they are restricted to approximately 8.5 million square kilometers.

Article: Leopard (Panthera pardus) status, distribution, and the research efforts across its range

Women are better coders than men, as long as their gender is unknown

Statistics from this preprint sparked debate in the news as the research from the study demonstrated that women computer coders experience gender bias due to the fact that their suggestions were taken less often when their gender was known and more often when their gender was unknown.

Preprint: Gender differences and bias in open source: Pull request acceptance of women versus men
Later published as a peer-reviewed article in PeerJ Computer Science
Read our blog post discussion with the authors and view the flurry of news coverage.

Researchers collaborate on a census of microbial life on the International Space Station (ISS)

Astronauts collected swabs of 15 surfaces onboard the ISS. The microbial analysis of the swabs were compared with samples from homes on earth as well as the Human Microbiome Project. It was found that the microbial community in the unique habitat of the ISS was very diverse and more closely resembled that of homes than of humans.

Article: A microbial survey of the International Space Station (ISS)
View the stellar news coverage here.

New Research Finds that Cell Phones Reflect Our Personal Microbiome

The authors were interested in the possibility of using personal effects as a non-invasive way to monitor our health and our contact with the surrounding environment. Cell phones were found to carry our personal microbiome. These study results suggest that mobile phones hold untapped potential as personal microbiome sensors, which could be especially useful in healthcare and environmental safety.

Article: Mobile phones carry the personal microbiome of their owners
View news coverage here.

What impact does a day of roller derby have on our skin microbiome?

Final Stockholm Roller derby möter Crime City Roller (CC BY-SA)

DNA analysis revealed that bacterial communities predict team membership, with teammates sharing distinct microbial communities. Additionally, when opposing teams competed in an hour-long bout their microbial communities became significantly more similar. This study is the first to illustrate the potential for using contact sports to understand how human interactions can influence our microbiome. Population growth is likely to increase the rate of person-to-person contact in expanding urban areas and so studying these skin ecosystems could have implications for health care, disease transmission and general understanding of urban environmental microbiology.

Article: Significant changes in the skin microbiome mediated by the sport of roller derby
View news coverage here.


It is always a proud moment when a friend says to one of us here at PeerJ, “Hey, I heard about your article in PeerJ on the news.” We know we are achieving an extended reach for our authors and at the same time furthering the public understanding of science.

We look forward to our next five years of bringing science to the world stage — and, most importantly, to continuing to give science and the work of our authors the spotlight.

For more information regarding PeerJ and the press, please visit our press room.

PeerJ celebrates 5 years of publishing with an editorial reboot and full fee waivers in February

Celebrating our most read articles … so far