PhytoKeys at 100: progress in sustainability, innovation, and speed to enhance publication in plant systematics
expand article infoW. John Kress, Sandra Knapp§, Pavel Stoev|, Lyubomir Penev#|
‡ National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, United States of America
§ The Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom
| Pensoft Publishers, Sofia, Bulgaria
¶ National Museum of Natural History, Sofia, Bulgaria
# Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria
Open Access

Eight years have passed since the launch of PhytoKeys (Penev et al. 2010) – Pensoft’s flagship journal in plant systematics – and six years from our last editorial commemorating the second year of its existence (Kress et al. 2012). Today we are publishing the journal’s 100th issue! There is no better occasion to look back and consider the development and most significant achievements of PhytoKeys.

In a very short time period after its inception, PhytoKeys became one of the most popular and appreciated Open Access journals in botany. The journal started with only 48 submissions in 2011; by 2017 that number quadrupled to 187 manuscripts submitted annually (Table 1, Fig. 1). The number of published articles has grown as well, from 39 in 2011 to 112 in 2016, while the number of published pages increased from 75 in 2010 to 3141 in 2016. To date the journal has received in total 759 submissions and published 532 articles, of which 21 are full monographs. The average acceptance rate for the period 2011–2017 was 70%, which we believe is optimal and sustainable for a taxonomic journal.

Figure 1. 

Growth of submitted manuscripts and published articles in PhytoKeys from 2010 to 2018 (until 1.6.2018).

Table 1.

Total number of submitted manuscripts, published articles, and printed pages since 2010.

Year Submitted manuscripts Published articles Published pages
2010 9 5 75
2011 48 39 397
2012 56 54 1042
2013 57 52 1494
2014 66 46 1342
2015 113 72 2035
2016 153 112 3141
2017 187 98 1973
2018* 70 54 1097
Total 759 532 12569

The journal indexes all nomenclatural changes and additions in the International Plant Names Index (IPNI) (Penev et al. 2010, 2016). In all, one new tribe, 26 new genera or subgenera, and 439 new species or infraspecies have been described in the journal since its launch; this equates to 466 new taxa in total. In addition to new taxa, more than 400 new combinations, replacement names, new status designations, and other nomenclatural acts have been proposed in the journal since we began.

Over the years PhytoKeys has attracted a diverse range of botanical researchers from all parts of the world, with the highest numbers coming from the United States of America (193), Brazil (93), China (80), United Kingdom (53) and Germany (49). Altogether 939 scientists from 67 countries have published in the journal from its launch until 1 June 2018 (Table 2).

Table 2.

Total number of PhytoKeys authors per country.

Country N Country N Country N
United States of America 193 Philippines 8 Taiwan 2
Brazil 93 Austria 7 Tanzania 2
China 80 Peru 7 Ireland 2
United Kingdom 53 Slovakia 6 Norway 2
Germany 49 Portugal 6 Mauritius 2
Belgium 39 Czech Republic 6 French Polynesia 2
Turkey 33 Ecuador 5 Hong Kong 1
Australia 27 Denmark 5 French Guyana 1
India 25 Sweden 5 Gabon 1
Netherlands 24 Poland 5 Ukraine 1
Spain 23 Korea, South 5 Uganda 1
France 22 Colombia 4 Cuba 1
Japan 19 Switzerland 4 Uruguay 1
New Zealand 17 Panama 4 Nepal 1
Vietnam 17 Paraguay 3 Lao PDR 1
South Africa 16 Cameroon 3 Uzbekistan 1
Thailand 14 Finland 3 Cambodia 1
Argentina 13 Myanmar 3 Kyrgyzstan 1
Canada 12 Papua New Guinea 3 Kenya 1
Mexico 12 Bulgaria 3 Hungary 1
Russia 10 Singapore 3 Costa Rica 1
Italy 10 Venezuela 3
Malaysia 8 Chile 2

In 2015 PhytoKeys was granted its first impact factor of 0.68, and it has gradually increased in the subsequent two years and reached 1.11 in 2017. The increase can be best explained by the stringent peer review of content, improved quality control, and manuscript management. In 2014 the journal was also accepted for coverage by Scopus. In December 2016 Scopus announced the introduction of CiteScore – a new journal level metrics. Currently for 2017, the Cite Score value of PhytoKeys is 1.08.

Along with our overall editorial improvements and advancements, a number of new technological solutions and features have been implemented in PhytoKeys in order to facilitate the efforts of editors, reviewers and authors (see Table 3).

Table 3.

New technological solutions implemented in the journal.

Feature For the benefit of Link Use
Automatic registrations of reviews at Publons Reviewers and Editors https://publons.com Publons helps reviewers and editors get recognition of every review they make for the journal.
Dimensions Authors, editors, administrators, publisher https://www.dimensions.ai Powerful tracker of citations; provides ranking of given research in a given field
Scopus CiteScore Metrics Authors, editors, administrators, publisher https://www.scopus.com/sourceid/19700201507 Interactive tool providing information on journal’s performance
Export of published figures & supplementary materials to Biodiversity Literature Repository at ZENODO Authors, data scientists, community in general https://zenodo.org/communities/biosyslit/?page=1&size=20 Increases visibility and traceability of article and sub-article elements
Hypothes.is Authors, readers http://hypothes.is Annotations on selected texts from the published article

PhytoKeys content is integrated with a significant number of global indexers and archives, such as PubMedCentral, CLOCKSS, Google Scholar, CAB Abstracts, DOAJ, Vifabio, BHL Citebank, to name just a few. In the two years from 2015 to 2017 Pensoft journals have been integrated with a number of global archives and data repositories that significantly increase visibility and searchability of published content. All journals operating on Pensoft’s innovative platform ARPHA, including PhytoKeys, have benefited from these developments. The list of the online libraries and databases which harvest and manage PhytoKeys content includes:

Library of Congress (USA)

CNKI (China)


eLibrary (Russia)

ORCID (International)

Dryad Data Repository (International)

Open Citations Corpus (International)

Since 2016 PhytoKeys has been using Altmetric – a technology providing article level metrics which enables authors to track the online shares and discussions of their published articles. Figure 2 demonstrates the combined results of the social media presence of PhytoKeys articles on Altmetric. The graph clearly shows an increase in the presence and visibility of the published content in social media and popular outlets since September 2016.

Figure 2. 

Total number of PhytoKeys mentions in social media and popular magazines.

Pensoft continues to invest in the popularization of PhytoKeys via media campaigns. Some examples of press releases on articles published in the journal that grasped the attention of journalists and received large media coverage are listed in Table 4. Altogether the top ten articles with the highest number of unique views on PhytoKeys site have received 147,865 views. Four species described in PhytoKeys – the flowering tree named as a new genus Sirdavidia solannona, the dragon tree Dracaena kaweesakii, the orchid Telipogon diabolicus and the bush tomato from northwestern Australia, Solanum ossicruentum made it to the top 10 new species nominated by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science’s International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) (Deutsche Welle, Daily Mail, Publico, CoolEarth, EurekAlert!).

Table 4.

The top ten PhytoKeys papers that attracted largest media interest.

Article Press release Media coverage
Schuette et al. (2018) The hidden Heuchera: How science Twitter uncovered a globally imperiled species in Pennsylvania, USA. Science and Twitter join forces to uncover a globally imperiled plant species Sverige Radio, Earth.com, PLOS Ecology, IFLScience
Caraballo-Ortiz and Trejo-Torres (2017) Two new endemic tree species from Puerto Rico: Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae (Nyctaginaceae). Two Caribbean bird-catcher trees named after 2 women with overlooked botanical works Der Standard, Mongabay
Diazgranados and Sánchez (2017)Espeletia praesidentis, a new species of Espeletiinae (Millerieae, Asteraceae) from northeastern Colombia. New Colombian plant discovered by Kew scientist honors Colombian president Express, El Tiempo, La Nacion
Kolanowska et al. (2016)Telipogon diabolicus (Orchidaceae, Oncidiinae), a new species from southern Colombia. Orchid or demon: Flower of a new species of orchid looks like a devil’s head The Washington Post, FOX news, РИА Новости, El Mundo
Martine et al. (2016) New functionally dioecious bush tomato from northwestern Australia, Solanum ossicruentum, may utilize “trample burr” dispersal. Curious new bush species growing ‘bleeding’ fruits named by a US class of 150 7th graders Science News, AOL, ABC
Martine et al. (2016)Solanum watneyi, a new bush tomato species from the Northern Territory, Australia named for Mark Watney of the book and film “The Martian”. New bush tomato species is the link between botany and an Oscar-nominated Hollywood movie Live Science, New York Daily News, Huffington Post
Leopardi-Verde et al. (2016)Encyclia inopinata (Orchidaceae, Laeliinae) a new species from Mexico. Serendipitous orchid: An unexpected species discovered in Mexican deciduous forests Scientific American, National Geographic Indonesia, Газета.ru
Suetsugu and Fukunaga (2016)Lecanorchis tabugawaensis (Orchidaceae, Vanilloideae), a new mycoheterotrophic plant from Yakushima Island, Japan. Plants cheat too: A new species of fungus-parasitizing orchid Asian Scientist, Nature World News, La Vanguardia
Couvreur TLP, Niangadouma R, Sonké B, Sauquet H (2015) Sirdavidia, an extraordinary new genus of Annonaceae from Gabon. PhytoKeys 46: 1-19. A rare new plant inspires the first plant genus named after Sir David Attenborough The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, Discover Magazine
Fernando E, Quimado M, Doronila A (2014) Rinorea niccolifera (Violaceae), a new, nickel-hyperaccumulating species from Luzon Island, Philippines. PhytoKeys 37: 1-13. New species of metal-eating plant discovered in the Philippines International Business Times, Russia Today, Asian Scientist

Over the eight years of the existence of PhytoKeys, the journal has positioned itself among the world’s leading journals in systematic botany. Started by the editors primarily as a taxonomically-oriented journal, the journal has since extended its scope to enable publications across other botanical disciplines, such as plant ecology, genomics, evolutionary biology, paleontology, bioinformatics, ethnobotany, etc.

As the chief editors of PhytoKeys we have worked hard to expand the journal’s editorial board, which has grown significantly and today is comprised of more than 80 experts from various scientific disciplines and geographical areas. The journal has achieved an international reputation by publishing milestone works that will affect all botanists, such as the changes to publication requirements made at the XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne (Knapp et al. 2011a, b), the report on the nomenclature section of the 2005 XVII International Botanical Congress, Vienna (Flann et al. 2015) and the Shenzhen Declaration on Plant Sciences endorsed by 7,000 plant scientists from 77 countries at the XIX International Botanical Congress held in Shenzhen, China (Kress and Knapp 2017).

With its continuous technological innovation and support from subject editors and reviewers, PhytoKeys continues to receive recognition by the international community of plant researchers. This success would not have been possible without our authors, reviewers, subject editors, production staff, readers, and supporters, to which we express our sincerest gratitude and thanks! We cannot wait to see what the 200th issue will look like!


  • Caraballo-Ortiz MA, Trejo-Torres JC (2017) Two new endemic tree species from Puerto Rico: Pisonia horneae and Pisonia roqueae (Nyctaginaceae). PhytoKeys 86: 97–115. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.86.11249
  • Flann C, McNeill J, Barrie FR, Nicolson DH, Hawksworth DL, Turland NJ, Monro AM (2015) Report on botanical nomenclature – Vienna 2005 XVII International Botanical Congress, Vienna: Nomenclature Section, 12–16 July 2005. PhytoKeys 45: 1–341. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.45.9138
  • Knapp S, McNeill J, Turland NJ (2011a) Changes to publication requirements made at the XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne – what does e-publication mean for you. PhytoKeys 6: 5–11. https://10.3897/phytokeys.6.1960
  • Knapp S, McNeill J, Turland NJ (2011b) Translation into Spanish of: "Changes to publication requirements made at the XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne – what does e-publication mean for you?". Translated by Carmen Ulloa Ulloa, Lourdes Rico Arce, and Renée H. Fortunato. PhytoKeys 6: 39–46. https://10.3897/phytokeys.6.1990
  • Kress W, Knapp S, Stoev P, Penev L (2012) On the front line of modern data-management and Open Access publishing: Two years of PhytoKeys – the fastest growing journal in plant systematics. PhytoKeys 19: 1–8. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.19.4501
  • Martine CT, Frawley ES, Cantley JT, Jordon-Thaden IE (2016) Solanum watneyi, a new bush tomato species from the Northern Territory, Australia named for Mark Watney of the book and film “The Martian”. PhytoKeys 61: 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.61.6995
  • Martine CT, Cantley JT, Frawley ES, Butler AR, Jordon-Thaden IE (2016) New functionally dioecious bush tomato from northwestern Australia, Solanum ossicruentum, may utilize “trample burr” dispersal. PhytoKeys 63: 19–29. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.63.7743
  • Penev L, Kress WJ, Knapp S, Li D-Z, Renner S (2010) Fast, linked, and open – the future of taxonomic publishing for plants: launching the journal PhytoKeys. PhytoKeys 1: 1–14. https://10.3897/phytokeys.1.642
  • Penev L, Paton A, Nicolson N, Kirk P, Pyle RL, Whitton R, Georgiev T, Barker C, Hopkins C, Robert V, Biserkov J, Stoev P (2016) A common registration-to-publication automated pipeline for nomenclatural acts for higher plants (International Plant Names Index, IPNI), fungi (Index Fungorum, MycoBank) and animals (ZooBank). In: Michel E (Ed.) Anchoring Biodiversity Information: From Sherborn to the 21st century and beyond.ZooKeys 550: 233–246. https://doi.org/10.3897/zookeys.550.9551
  • Schuette S, Folk RA, Cantley JT, Martine CT (2018) The hidden Heuchera: How science Twitter uncovered a globally imperiled species in Pennsylvania, USA. PhytoKeys 96: 87–97. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.96.23667
  • Suetsugu K, Fukunaga H (2016) Lecanorchis tabugawaensis (Orchidaceae, Vanilloideae), a new mycoheterotrophic plant from Yakushima Island, Japan. PhytoKeys 73: 125–135. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.73.10019