PLOS Editorial and Publishing Policies

The following editorial and publishing policies apply to all of PLOS journals, unless otherwise noted. For additional policy information, please also refer to the PLOS Terms of Use, and the PLOS Privacy Statement.


  1. Relationship between PLOS Journals
  2. Publication Charges
  3. Copyright and License Policies
  4. Author Status
  5. Competing Interests
  6. Human and Animal Research
  7. Sharing of Data, Materials, and Software
  8. Reporting Guidelines for Specific Study Designs
  9. Policies Regarding Submission of a New Taxon Name
  10. Submission of Related Manuscripts
  11. Reviewer and Editor Exclusions
  12. Confidentiality
  13. Corrections and Additions
  14. Publication Ethics
  15. Blogs, Wikis, Embargoes, and the Media
  16. Studies Sponsored by Specific Funders
  17. Biosecurity and Dual Use Research of Concern
  18. FAQs for Editorial Policy

1. Relationship between PLOS Journals

All journals published by PLOS are autonomous publications.

PLOS Biology and PLOS Medicine. Each of these two journals has a team of professional and academic editors who evaluate papers for publication. If a manuscript that falls between basic and clinical research is submitted to PLOS Biology or PLOS Medicine, the professional editors of both journals may consult each other on such manuscripts to ensure the fairest possible treatment. As a result, authors who have submitted their manuscript to PLOS Medicine may be encouraged instead to submit their paper to PLOS Biology (and vice versa).

PLOS Community Journals. PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Genetics, PLOS Pathogens, and PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases are run solely and independently by their own Editors-in-Chief and community-based editorial boards.

PLOS ONE. This journal is run independently from the other journals by a community-based editorial board.

Transfer of papers. Authors can request that papers (with referee reports, if relevant) rejected from one PLOS journal be transferred to another PLOS journal for further consideration there. We trust that reviewers for any PLOS journal are willing to have their reviews considered by the editors of another PLOS journal. Papers will never be transferred between the journals without an author's consent.

Back to Contents

2. Publication Charges

To provide open access, PLOS journals use a business model in which our expenses—including those of peer review, journal production, and online hosting and archiving—are recovered in part by charging a publication fee to the authors or research sponsors for each article they publish. The fees vary by journal.

PLOS is committed to the widest possible global participation in open access publishing. To determine the appropriate fee, we use a country-based pricing model, which is based on the country that provides 50% or more of the primary funding for the research that is being submitted. Research articles funded by Upper Middle and High Income Countries incur our standard publication fees. Corresponding authors who are affiliated with one of our Institutional Members are eligible for a discount on this fee. Such authors will be informed of the discount applicable after submission of their manuscript.

Fees for Low and Lower Middle Income Countries are calculated according to the PLOS Global Participation Initiative pricing program for manuscripts submitted after 9am Pacific Time on September 4, 2012 (this program is not retroactive).

  • Group One: Countries from this list will not be charged for publishing
  • Group Two: Countries from this list will be charged a flat $500

Our fee waiver policy, whereby PLOS offers to waive or further reduce the payment required of authors who cannot pay the full amount charged for publication, remains in effect. Editors and reviewers have no access to whether authors are able to pay; decisions to publish are only based on editorial criteria.

Back to Contents

3. Copyright and License Policies

Open access agreement. Upon submission of an article, its authors are asked to indicate their agreement to abide by an open access Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. Under the terms of this license, authors retain ownership of the copyright of their articles. However, the license permits any user to download, print out, extract, reuse, archive, and distribute the article, so long as appropriate credit is given to the authors and source of the work. The license ensures that the authors' article will be available as widely as possible and that the article can be included in any scientific archive.

Open access agreement: US government authors. Papers authored by one or more US government employees are not copyrighted, but are licensed under a CC0 Public Domain Dedication, which allows unlimited distribution and reuse of the article for any lawful purpose. Authors should read about CC-BY or CC0 before submitting papers.

Archiving in PubMed Central. Upon publication, PLOS also deposits all articles in PubMed Central. This complies with the policies of funding agencies, such as the NIH in the USA, the Wellcome Trust, and the Research Councils in the UK, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft in Germany, which request or require deposition of the published articles that they fund into publicly available databases.

Back to Contents

4. Author Status

Process. All authors will be contacted by email at submission to ensure that they are aware of and approve the submission of the manuscript, its content, and its authorship. Some PLOS journals also require that all co-authors then confirm their assent to publication by email.

Professional medical writers. The involvement of any professional medical writer in the publication process must be declared. We encourage authors to consult the European Medical Writers' Association Guidelines on the role of medical writers.

Authorship criteria. All PLOS journals base their criteria for authorship on those outlined in the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, which are excerpted below. The contributions of all authors must be described. Contributions that fall short of authorship should be mentioned in the Acknowledgments section of the paper.

  • Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.
  • When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript (3). These individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship/contributorship defined above, and editors will ask these individuals to complete journal-specific author and conflict-of-interest disclosure forms. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments. The NLM indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript; it also lists the names of collaborators if they are listed in Acknowledgments.
  • Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.
  • All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.
  • Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.

Changes in authorship. PLOS journals follow the COPE guidelines covering changes in authorship. If any changes to the list of authors of a manuscript are necessary after the initial submission of a manuscript to a PLOS journal but before its publication, the corresponding author must first contact the journal staff and provide a clear reason for the change(s). If the change to the authorship list is appropriate and in keeping with the guidelines given above, the corresponding author will be asked to provide written confirmation that all other authors listed on the manuscript at that time consent to the change(s). Any individuals who the corresponding author asks to be added or removed from the list of authors will be contacted by PLOS.

Back to Contents

5. Competing Interests

PLOS policy on competing interests. PLOS is committed to ensuring that research is as free from bias as possible and is seen to be so. It is increasingly recognized that everyone — authors, authors' employers (e.g., an academic institution, government department, commercial company, or other), sponsors of the work, reviewers, editors, and publishers — has competing interests of some sort. It is difficult for individual readers to assess objectively whether competing interests could have biased the presentation of, peer review of, or decision to publish a given work. Transparency of competing interests allows readers to better evaluate the possibility of such bias. Journals and their editors must take all competing interests into account during the review process and ensure that any relevant ones are declared in the published article. PLOS journals therefore have the following three requirements:

  • Authors must declare all relevant competing interests for consideration during the review process.
  • Editors (professional or academic, paid or unpaid) and reviewers must declare their own competing interests and if necessary disqualify themselves from involvement in the assessment of a paper.
  • Anyone who comments on or rates published papers in any PLOS journal must declare their competing interests at the time of posting their comments and/or rating.

Explanation of competing interests.

What is a competing interest?
PLOS defines a competing interest as anything that interferes with, or could reasonably be perceived as interfering with, the full and objective presentation, peer review, editorial decision-making, or publication of research or non-research articles submitted to one of the journals. Competing interests can be financial or non-financial, professional, or personal. Competing interests can arise in relationship to an organization or another person. See below for definitions and examples of various competing interests.

Who needs to declare competing interests?
Everyone involved in authorship, funding, review, and editorial decision-making of submitted articles, or who wishes to comment on or rate published articles, must declare any and all relevant competing interests.

How do PLOS journals treat competing interests in their review and publication process?
No decision is made to publish any paper submitted to a PLOS journal until a competing interests statement has been submitted for all authors. The editors may ask for clarification about declarations. The role of all funding sources in the work must be described and authors must state explicitly whether the funder was involved in the: study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the paper; and/or decision to submit for publication. If the funder was involved, the role/contribution must be described explicitly.

The editors of a PLOS journal might decide not to publish a paper if they believe the competing interests declared by the authors or funders might have compromised the objectivity or validity of the research, analyses, or interpretations in the paper. PLOS editors will not publish a commissioned or any other non-research article if they are aware of a competing interest that, in their judgment, could introduce bias or a reasonable perception of bias. PLOS editors do not consult reviewers who have competing interests that, in the editors' judgment, could interfere with unbiased review. Failure to declare competing interests at submission, or when an article is commissioned, can result in immediate rejection of the paper. If a competing interest comes to light after publication, PLOS journal will issue a formal correction to or retraction of the whole paper, as appropriate.

Examples of competing interests.


Financial competing interests include but are not limited to:

  • ownership of stocks or shares;
  • paid employment or consultancy;
  • board membership;
  • patent applications (pending or actual), including individual applications or those belonging to the institution to which the authors are affiliated and from which the authors may benefit;
  • research grants (from any source, restricted or unrestricted);
  • travel grants and honoraria for speaking or participation at meetings;
  • gifts.

Authors must declare all potential financial competing interests involving people or organizations that might reasonably be perceived as relevant. Similarly, reviewers and academic and professional editors, paid or unpaid, must declare any financial relationships that could reasonably be perceived as relevant and/or could influence their objective review of the paper; if a financial competing interest exists, these individuals should recuse themselves from handling the paper. Anyone wishing to comment on or rate a published paper must also disclose any relevant financial interests. As a guide, any competing interest that arose within the five years either before or after the commencement of the research described, or within five years of the article being written, or within five years of events described in the article, should be declared. However, interests outside this time-frame might also be relevant; if so, they should also be declared so that their relevance can be judged by the journal editorial team.


Non-financial competing interests include but are not limited to:

    • acting as an expert witness;
    • membership in a government or other advisory board;
    • relationship (paid or unpaid) with organizations and funding bodies including nongovernmental organizations, research institutions, or charities;
    • membership of lobbying or advocacy organizations;
    • writing or consulting for an educational company.

    • personal relationships (i.e. friend, spouse, family member, current or previous mentor, adversary) with individuals involved in the submission or evaluation of a paper, such as authors, reviewers, editors, or members of the editorial board of a PLOS journal;
    • personal convictions (political, religious, ideological, or other) related to a paper's topic that might interfere with an unbiased publication process (at the stage of authorship, peer review, editorial decision-making, or publication).

Authors, reviewers, editors, and anyone wishing to comment on a published paper must disclose any non-financial interests that might influence their reporting, handling, or review of the paper, or that might be negatively or positively affected by publication of the paper.

For example, authors are required to declare whether they have served or currently serve on the editorial board of the journal to which they are submitting, have acted as an expert witness in relevant legal proceedings, or have sat or currently sit on a committee for an organization that may benefit from publication of the paper.

Reviewers are required to declare whether they have held grants, co-authored papers, or worked in the same institution or organization with the authors of the study they are asked to review, or if they are in an adversarial relationship with the authors.

Similarly, editors — academic or professional, paid or unpaid — are required to recuse themselves from deliberations if they cannot evaluate a paper in an objective way because of personal relationships with the authors.

Finally, anyone who comments on or rates published papers for PLOS must declare non-financial competing interests at the time of posting their comments and/or rating.

See this editorial for further clarification: PLOS Medicine Editors (2008) Making Sense of Non-Financial Competing Interests. PLOS Med 5(9): e199 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050199.

Back to Contents

6. Human and Animal Research

Research involving human participants. All research involving human participants must have been approved by the authors' institutional review board or equivalent committee(s), and that board must be named in the manuscript. For research involving human participants, informed consent must have been obtained (or the reason for lack of consent explained — for example, that the data were analyzed anonymously) and all clinical investigation must have been conducted according to the principles expressed in the Declaration of Helsinki. Authors should be able to submit, upon request, a statement from the research ethics committee or institutional review board indicating approval of the research. PLOS editors also encourage authors to submit a sample of a patient consent form, and might require submission on particular occasions.

For studies involving humans categorized by race/ethnicity, age, disease/disabilities, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, or other socially constructed groupings, authors should, as much as possible:

  • make explicit their methods of categorizing human populations;
  • define categories in as much detail as the study protocol allows;
  • justify their choices of definitions and categories, including for example whether any rules of human categorization were required by their funding agency;
  • explain whether (and, if so, how) they controlled for confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, nutrition, environmental exposures, etc.

In addition, outmoded terms and potentially stigmatizing labels should be changed to more current, acceptable terminology — for example: 'Caucasian' should be changed to 'white' or 'of [western] European descent' (as appropriate); 'cancer victims' should be changed to 'patients with cancer.'

Reporting of animal studies and ethical treatment of animals. For studies involving animals, all work must have been conducted according to applicable national and international guidelines. Prior approval must have been obtained for all protocols from the relevant author's institutional or other appropriate ethics committee, and the institution name and permit numbers must be provided at submission (see example below). For research involving non-human primates, all studies must be performed in accordance with the recommendations of the Weatherall (2006) report, The use of non-human primates in research. Where unregulated animals are used or ethics approval is not required by a specific committee, the article should include a clear statement of this fact and the reasons why ethical approval is not required.

We also strongly encourage all authors to comply with the 'Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments' (ARRIVE) guidelines, developed by NC3Rs to improve standards of reporting to ensure that the data from animal experiments can be fully scrutinized and utilized. Relevant information should be included in the appropriate section of the article (e.g. title, abstract, or method), as outlined in the ARRIVE guidelines. The ARRIVE guidelines can be applied to any area of bioscience research using laboratory animals. Where research could be confused as pertaining to human clinical research, the animal model should also be noted in the article title.

Example of statement of ethical approval. This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. The protocol was approved by the Committee on the Ethics of Animal Experiments of the University of Minnesota (Permit Number: 27-2956). All surgery was performed under sodium pentobarbital anesthesia, and every effort was made to minimize suffering.

Back to Contents

7. Sharing of Data, Materials, and Software

Publication is conditional upon the agreement of the authors to make freely available any materials and information described in their publication that may be reasonably requested by others.

Data Availability

PLOS journals require authors to make all data underlying the findings described in their manuscript fully available without restriction, with rare exception1.

When submitting a manuscript online, authors must provide a Data Availability Statement describing compliance with PLOS's policy. If the article is accepted for publication, the data availability statement will be published as part of the final article.

Refusal to share data and related metadata and methods in accordance with this policy will be grounds for rejection. PLOS journal editors encourage researchers to contact them if they encounter difficulties in obtaining data from articles published in PLOS journals. If restrictions on access to data come to light after publication, we reserve the right to post a correction, to contact the authors' institutions and funders, or in extreme cases to retract the publication.

Methods acceptable to PLOS journals with respect to data sharing are listed below, accompanied by guidance for authors as to what must be indicated in their data availability statement and how to follow best practices in reporting. If authors did not collect data themselves but used another source, this source must be credited as appropriate. Authors who have questions or difficulties with the policy, or readers who have difficulty accessing data, are encouraged to contact the relevant journal office or

Acceptable data-sharing methods:

Data deposition (strongly recommended). All data and related metadata underlying the findings reported in a submitted manuscript should be deposited in an appropriate public repository2, unless already provided as part of the submitted article. Repositories may be either subject-specific (where these exist) and accept specific types of structured data, or generalist repositories that accept multiple data types, such as Dryad. Guidance on acceptable repositories is included below2. The Data Availability Statement must specify that data are deposited publicly and list the name(s) of repositories along with digital object identifiers or accession numbers for the relevant datasets. In some cases authors may not be able to obtain DOIs or accession numbers until the manuscript is accepted; in these cases, the authors must provide these numbers at acceptance. In all other cases, these numbers must be provided at submission.

Data in Supporting Information files. For smaller datasets and certain data types, authors may upload data as Supporting Information files accompanying the manuscript. (See also additional information regarding appropriate use of Supporting Information files.) Authors should take care to maximize the accessibility and reusability of the data by selecting a file format from which data can be efficiently extracted (for example, spreadsheets are preferable to PDF when providing tabulated data).

If data deposition or provision in Supporting Information is not ethical or legal (e.g., underlying data pose privacy or legal concerns, or include human participants3), the following two methods may be acceptable alternatives, subject to case-by-case evaluation:

Data made available to all interested researchers upon request. The Data Availability Statement must specify “Data available on request” and identify the group to which requests should be submitted (e.g., a named data access committee or named ethics committee). The reasons for restrictions on public data deposition must also be specified. Note that it is not acceptable for the authors to be the sole named individuals responsible for ensuring data access.

Data available from third party. In the case of a primary dataset that was not originally generated by the authors of the submitted manuscript, appropriate data sharing may require that interested researchers obtain third-party data independently from the named original source. In this case, the Data Availability Statement must state the source of the data with full citation and, if the dataset cannot be provided, indicate “Data available from (named source).” The reasons for restrictions on public data deposition must also be specified.

Unacceptable data access restrictions:

PLOS journals will not consider manuscripts for which the following factors influence ability to share data:

  • Authors will not share data because of personal interests, such as patents or potential future publications.
  • The conclusions depend solely on the analysis of proprietary data (e.g., data owned by commercial interests, or copyrighted data). If proprietary data are used, the manuscript must include an analysis of public data that validates the conclusions so that others can reproduce the analysis and build on the findings.

Explanatory notes and guidance:

A compilation of frequently asked questions about the PLOS Data Policy is available and is updated periodically.

1. Definition of data that must be shared

PLOS defines the “minimal dataset” to consist of the dataset used to reach the conclusions drawn in the manuscript with related metadata and methods, and any additional data required to replicate the reported study findings in their entirety. Core descriptive data, methods, and study results should be included within the main paper, regardless of data deposition. PLOS does not accept references to “data not shown”. Editors and reviewers may require particular data types for certain articles on a case-by-case basis. Authors who have datasets too large for sharing via repositories or uploaded files should contact the relevant journal for advice.

2. Guidance on data repositories

PLOS requires that authors comply with field-specific standards for preparation and recording of data and select repositories appropriate to their field, for example deposition of microarray data in ArrayExpress or GEO; deposition of gene sequences in GenBank, EMBL or DDBJ; clinical trials data in; and deposition of ecological data in Dryad. Authors are encouraged to select repositories that meet accepted criteria as trustworthy digital repositories, such as criteria of the Centre for Research Libraries or Data Seal of Approval. Large, international databases are more likely to persist than small, local ones. Copyright licensing for data held in repositories may be unclear. If authors use repositories with stated licensing policies the policies should not be more restrictive than CC-BY.

3. Guidance on sharing datasets that derive from clinical studies or other work involving human participants

For studies involving human participants, data must be handled so as to not compromise study participants' privacy. PLOS recommends that researchers follow established guidance and applicable local laws in ensuring they do not compromise participant privacy. Resources which researchers may consult for guidance include:

US National Institutes of Health: Protecting the Rights and Privacy of Human Subjects
Canadian Institutes of Health Research Best Practices for Protecting Privacy in Health Research
UK Data Archive: Anonymisation Overview
Australian National Data Service: Ethics, Consent and Data Sharing

Steps necessary to protect privacy may include de-identification, blocking portions of the database, or license agreements directed specifically at privacy concerns. Authors should indicate, as part of the ethics statement, the ways in which the study participants' privacy was preserved. If license agreements apply, authors should note the process necessary for other researchers to obtain a license.

Availability of materials

PLOS is committed to ensuring the availability of materials that underpin any articles published in PLOS journals. PLOS's ideal is to make all readily replaceable materials relevant to a given article immediately available without restrictions (while not compromising confidentiality in the context of human-subject research).

PLOS journal editors encourage researchers to contact them if they encounter difficulties in obtaining materials from articles published in PLOS journals. PLOS reserves the right to post corrections on articles, to contact authors' institutions and funders, and in extreme cases to withdraw publication, if unreasonable restrictions on access to materials come to light after publication of a PLOS journal article.

Availability of Software

PLOS supports the development of open source software and believes that, for submissions in which software is the central part of the paper, adherence to appropriate open source standards will ensure that the submission conforms to (1) our requirements that methods be described in sufficient detail that another researcher can reproduce the experiments described, (2) our aim to promote openness in research, and (3) our intention that all work published in PLOS journals can be built upon by future researchers. Therefore, if new software or a new algorithm is central to a PLOS paper, the authors must confirm that the software conforms to the Open Source Definition, have deposited the following three items in an open software archive, and included in the submission as Supporting Information:

  • The associated source code of the software described by the paper. This should, as far as possible, follow accepted community standards and be licensed under a suitable license such as BSD, LGPL, or MIT (see for a full list). Dependency on commercial software such as Mathematica and MATLAB does not preclude a paper from consideration, although complete open source solutions are preferred.
  • Documentation for running and installing the software. For end-user applications, instructions for installing and using the software are prerequisite; for software libraries, instructions for using the application program interface are prerequisite.
  • A test dataset with associated control parameter settings. Where feasible, results from standard test sets should be included. Where possible, test data should not have any dependencies — for example, a database dump.

Acceptable archives should provide a public repository of the described software. The code should be easy to locate and download without the requirement for creating user accounts, logging in or otherwise registering personal details. The repository must have been in existence for over five years or be hosting more than 1,000 projects. Examples of such archives are: SourceForge, Bioinformatics.Org, Open Bioinformatics Foundation (O|B|F), Google Code, BerliOS Developer, Savannah, GitHub and the Codehaus. Authors should provide a direct link to the deposited software from within the paper.

Deposition with the journal and in an open source archive ensures that the original source associated with the paper is available as well as any enhancements made after the paper is published. An article can be considered for publication if it covers a well-established project that has been providing an open source code repository for an extended amount of time. A condition of acceptance is that the software can be run by reviewers accessing the public software and that the results presented in the paper are reproducible. The software need run on only one hardware-software platform in common use by the readership (including MATLAB), although it must run without dependencies on proprietary or otherwise unobtainable ancillary software. Articles describing software that requires access to databases and other resources whose persistence is not guaranteed (e.g. individual laboratory databases without funding support) will not be considered. In addition, the results described in the paper must be reproducible when peer reviewers, editors, or readers run the software on the deposited dataset and with the provided control parameters.

When the software or algorithm is not central to the paper, we nevertheless encourage authors to make all relevant materials freely available.

Back to Contents

8. Reporting Guidelines for Specific Study Designs

Authors should check the EQUATOR Network site for any reporting guidelines that apply to their study design, and ensure that any required Supporting Information (checklists, protocols, flowcharts, etc.) be included in the article submission.

Clinical trials. PLOS follows the WHO definition of a clinical trial: "...any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes...Interventions include but are not restricted to drugs, cells and other biological products, surgical procedures, radiologic procedures, devices, behavioural treatments, process-of-care changes, preventive care, etc."

PLOS supports the position of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) on trial registration. All trials initiated from 1 July 2005 must be registered prospectively in a publicly accessible registry (i.e., before patient recruitment has begun) or they will not be considered for publication. For trials initiated before 1 July 2005, all trials must be registered before submission to any PLOS journal. The ICMJE FAQ on trial registration has further details, and WHO provides a list of approved registries. PLOS editors reserve the right to inform authors' institutions or ethics committees if they become aware of unregistered trials.

Authors of trials must adhere to the CONSORT reporting guidelines appropriate to their trial design, available on the CONSORT Statement Website. Before the paper can enter peer review, authors must: (1) record, in the paper trial registry, the trial registration number and institutional review board, and (2) provide a copy of the trial protocol and a completed CONSORT checklist as supporting information (these documents will also be published alongside the paper, if accepted). The CONSORT flow diagram must be included as the manuscript's "Figure 1." Any deviation from the trial protocol must be explained in the paper. Authors must explicitly discuss informed consent in their paper, and PLOS reserves the right to ask for a copy of the patient consent form. Information on statistical methods or participants, beyond that indicated in the CONSORT statement, should be reported in the Methods section.

PLOS supports the public disclosure of all clinical trial results, as mandated, for example, by the FDA Amendments Act, 2007. Prior disclosure of results on a clinical trial registry site will not affect the decision to peer review or accept papers in PLOS journals.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Reports of systematic reviews and meta-analyses should use the PRISMA statement as a guide, and include a completed PRISMA checklist and flow diagram to accompany the main text. Blank templates of the checklist and flow diagram can be downloaded from the PRISMA Web site. Authors must also state within their Methods section whether a protocol exists for their systematic review, and if so, provide a copy of the protocol as Supporting Information. The journal supports the prospective registration of systematic reviews. Authors whose systematic review was prospectively registered (e.g. in a registry such as PROSPERO) should also provide the registry number in their abstract. Registry details and protocols will be made available to editors and reviewers, and included alongside the paper for readers if the report is ultimately published.

Diagnostic studies. Reports of studies of diagnostic accuracy should conform to the STARD requirements.

Epidemiological studies. For reports of epidemiological studies, authors should consult the STROBE initiative.

Microarray experiments. Reports of microarray experiments should conform to the MIAME guidelines published by the Functional Genomics Data Society (FGED), and the data from the experiments must be deposited in a publicly accessible database.

Checklists for biological and biomedical research investigations. PLOS recommends that authors refer to the MIBBI Portal (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations) for prescriptive checklists for reporting biological and biomedical research where applicable.

Back to Contents

9. Policies Regarding Submission of a New Taxon Name

Zoological names. When publishing papers that describe a new zoological taxon name, PLOS aims to comply with the requirements of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). However, the ICZN does not yet recognize online-only journals, and so, unless PLOS adapts its publication process for taxonomic papers (which it does, as detailed below), any scientific animal name published by PLOS would not be considered 'available' under the rules of the Code ('available' is the formal term for legally published under the Code, and is equivalent to the term 'nomenclaturally valid' in botanical literature). There is a proposal to amend the Code to accommodate online-only publication, which, as of February 2011, awaits an ICZN vote.

Until acceptance of this amendment, the ICZN has proposed an interim solution for authors publishing in PLOS journals that allows PLOS to comply with the code by providing a limited hardcopy print run of the article and making it publicly obtainable. Therefore, for all papers that include the naming of a new zoological taxon, PLOS will make a printed version available for outside parties (at a cost of $10, to cover postage and printing) at the same time as the publication of the online open access article. This additional printed version of the article will contain text in the footer of the first page. This text will be added by PLOS staff, and, apart from this new footer, the printed version will be identical to the PDF of the online version. Footer text: "This printed document was produced by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies, and those copies were simultaneously obtainable for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record, in accordance with Article 8.1 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. Date of publication: XXXXXXXX. This document is otherwise identical to DOI: XXXXX."

In addition, we ask that authors add the following information about archiving and ZooBank registration to the online version of the article before it is finally accepted.

  • Digital archiving. Please include the names of the digital archives where PLOS articles are deposited (currently, PubMedCentral and LOCKSS). If an author's institute (or those of co-authors) has its own repository, we recommend that authors also deposit the published online article there and include the names of such repositories in the article.
  • ZooBank registration. Authors should contact ZooBank about the registration of the new species name and request a unique digital identifier (a Life Science Identifier [LSID]). The LSID also needs to be included in the published paper. ZooBank has not yet been officially recognized by the ICZN, but it is still important to register there, because the ICZN are likely to request mandatory registration of new names in ZooBank for all online-only journals.

The following paragraphs provide an example of the type of wording that we recommend for a new taxon description in a PLOS journal. The first paragraph below is required for the online-only version but is overruled by the footer note above, added to the print-only edition. The names of the libraries and institutional repositories should be included, as appropriate.

    Please insert a modification of the following example text into the Methods section, in a subsection called 'Nomenclatural Acts'.
    The electronic version of this document does not represent a published work according to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), and hence the nomenclatural acts contained in the electronic version are not available under that Code from the electronic edition. Therefore, a separate edition of this document was produced by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies, and those copies were simultaneously obtainable (from the publication date noted on the first page of this article) for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record, in accordance with Article 8.1 of the Code. The separate print-only edition is available on request from PLOS by sending a request to PLOS, 1160 Battery Street, Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA along with a check for $10 (to cover printing and postage) payable to 'PLOS'. In addition, this published work and the nomenclatural acts it contains have been registered in ZooBank, the proposed online registration system for the ICZN. The ZooBank LSIDs (Life Science Identifiers) can be resolved and the associated information viewed through any standard web browser by appending the LSID to the prefix ''. The LSID for this publication is: [insert here] Anochetus boltoni Fisher sp. nov.

Botanical names. When publishing papers that describe a new botanical taxon name, PLOS aims to comply with the requirements of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN). Following from a test case (Knapp S [2010] PLOS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010502) and in association with the International Plant Names Index (IPNI), the following guidelines for publication in an online-only journal have been agreed such that any scientific botanical name published by PLOS is considered effectively published under the rules of the Code. These guidelines differ from those for zoological nomenclature (see above) and will change in concert with the Code. The online version of the article in itself does not represent a published work according to the ICBN, and hence the new names contained in the online version are not effectively published under that Code from the online edition alone.

To comply with Article 29 of the code, therefore, we ask all authors (one author if the paper has multiple authors) to print out copies (in a single print run) of their paper from the relevant PLOS journal website on the day of publication and ensure that they post these copies on that day to multiple relevant institutions (ten are recommended in ICBN Rec. 30.2 of the Vienna Code), including the names indexing centre for the group in question (i.e. IPNI for flowering plants and ferns, MycoBank and Index Fungorum for fungi). Confirmation that the article has been posted can be added as a comment to the online publication.

PLOS will also make a printed version available for outside parties (at a cost of $10, to cover postage and printing) of the online-only article (which remains freely available).

In addition, we ask that authors add the following information about archiving to the online version of the article before it is finally accepted.

  • Digital archiving. Please include the names of the digital archives where PLOS articles are deposited (currently, PubMedCentral and LOCKSS). If an author's institute (or those of co-authors) has its own repository, PLOS recommends that authors also deposit the published online article there and include the name of such repositories in their article.
  • Unique digital identifier. Please provide a unique digital identifier (a Globally Unique Identifier [GUID]; currently an LSID) that indicates listing in IPNI for flowering plants, ferns, and fern allies, or MycoBank/Index Fungorum number for fungi. The IPNI GUID/MB number/IF number also must be included in the published paper. We recommend that authors contact IPNI or MycoBank/Index Fungorum to request a unique digital identifier.

The following paragraphs provide an example of the type of wording that is recommended for a new botanical taxon description in a PLOS journal. The names of the libraries and institutional repositories should be included, as appropriate.

    Please insert a modification of the following example text into the Methods section, in a subsection called 'Nomenclatural Acts' (taken from Knapp S [2010] PLOS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010502).

    The electronic version of this document in itself does not represent a published work according to the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, and hence the new names contained in the electronic version are not effectively published under that Code from the electronic edition alone. Therefore, a separate edition of this document was produced by a method that assures numerous identical printed copies, and those copies were simultaneously distributed (on the publication date noted on the first page of this article) for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record, in accordance with Article 29 of the Code. Copies of the print-only edition of this article were distributed on the publication date to botanical or generally accessible libraries of the following institutions (BM, COL, GH, HUA, K, MEXU, MO, NY, QCA, QCNE, USM). The separate print-only edition is available on request from PLOS (Public Library of Science) by sending a request to PLOS, 1160 Battery Street, Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA along with a check for $10 (to cover printing and postage) payable to 'PLOS'.
    In addition, new names contained in this work have been submitted to IPNI, from where they will be made available to the Global Names Index. The IPNI LSIDs (Life Science Identifiers) can be resolved and the associated information viewed through any standard web browser by appending the LSID contained in this publication to the prefix The online version of this work is archived and available from the following digital repositories: PubMedCentral and Solanaceae Source: a web resource for the nightshade family.*

The institutions listed are to be chosen by the author, and GUIDs are likely to replace LSIDs and should be cited where available. Also, neither MycoBank nor Index Fungorum has a local resolution service, so for fungal names please use, and refer to, the TDWG LSID resolver.

Globally unique identifier. In the results section, the GUID (LSID) should be listed under the new species name:

    Solanum aspersum S. Knapp, sp. Nov. [] Type: Colombia. Putumayo: vertiente oriental de la Cordillera, entre Sachamates y San Francisco de Sibundoy, 1600-1750 m, 30 Dec 1940, J. Cuatrecasas 11471 (holotype, COL; isotypes, F [F-1335119], US [US-1799731]).

Back to Contents

10. Submission of Related Manuscripts

When submitting an article, all authors are asked to indicate that they do not have a related or duplicate manuscript under consideration (or accepted) for publication elsewhere. If related work has been submitted elsewhere, then a copy must be included with the article submitted to PLOS. Reviewers will be asked to comment on the overlap between related submissions.

Back to Contents

11. Reviewer and Editor Exclusions

Upon submission of a manuscript, authors are asked whether they wish to exclude any specific academic editors or reviewers from the peer review of their article. The editorial team will respect these requests so long as this does not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of the article. See the relevant guidelines for reviewers and more general information on PLOS policy regarding competing interests.

Back to Contents

12. Confidentiality

Editors and reviewers are required to treat all submitted manuscripts in strict confidence.

Back to Contents

13. Corrections and Additions

PLOS publishes corrections, retractions, and expressions of concern as appropriate, and as quickly as possible. We follow the ICMJE ( and COPE ( guidelines where applicable.

A notice of correction will be issued by PLOS to document and correct substantial errors that appear in online articles when these errors significantly affect the content or understanding of the work reported (e.g., error in data presentation or analysis) or when the error affects the publication's metadata (e.g., misspelling of an author's name). In these cases, PLOS will publish a correction that will be linked to the original article.

In very rare cases, we may choose to correct the article itself and re-post it online. If that course is taken, a correction notice will also be created to document the changes to the original article.

Authors who wish to alert PLOS to a situation where a correction may be warranted are requested to contact us with the relevant details (journal, full citation of the article, and description of the error) at: or the respective journal office.

Authors are encouraged to post comments to their articles to note typographical errors, and other problems that do not significantly affect the scientific integrity of the work.

Back to Contents

14. Publication Ethics

All PLOS Journals are members of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), abide by its Code of Conduct and aim to adhere to its Best Practice Guidelines.

We will vigorously investigate allegations of publication misconduct in PLOS journals (both before and after publication) and reserve the right to contact authors’ institutions, funders or regulatory bodies if needed. If we find conclusive evidence of misconduct we will take steps to correct the scientific record, which may include issuing a correction or retraction. PLOS journals have a Journal Ethics Committee composed of representatives of all the journals, which sets ethical policies for PLOS journals and also investigates specific issues.

The following list outlines some key issues in Publication Ethics. It is not an exhaustive list. For further details authors should consult the journals’ specific policies and the references below.

  • Authors are expected to be aware of, and comply with, best practice in publication ethics specifically with regard to authorship (for example avoidance of ghost or guest authorship), dual submission, plagiarism, manipulation of figures, competing interests and compliance with policies on research ethics
  • PLOS has incorporated CrossCheck (, powered by iThenticate, into its journal-wide submission system in order to screen submitted content for originality before publication. Each PLOS journal undertakes screening on a proportion of submitted papers. Authors will be contacted if needed following the screening process.
  • Reviewers and Editors are required to treat manuscripts fairly and in confidence, and to declare any competing interests.

In cases of suspected or alleged misconduct, the COPE flowcharts will be followed. We may also seek advice on specific cases at the COPE forum.

Any concerns about the above should be addressed to the Editor in Chief, Chief Editor, or Executive Editor as appropriate of the respective PLOS journal. Please direct inquiries to these individuals via the respective journal address.

More extensive resources are available here: COPE, WAME.

Back to Contents

15. Blogs, Wikis, Embargoes, and the Media

Authors may present and discuss their findings ahead of publication: at medical or scientific conferences, on preprint servers, in public databases, and in blogs, wikis, tweets, and other informal communication channels. We recommend, however, that authors not contact the media or respond to such contact unless an article has been accepted for publication and an embargo date has been established. Respect for press embargoes will help to ensure that the work is reported accurately in the popular media and that the full peer-reviewed paper is freely available to any interested reader when the news item is published. However, if a journalist has covered a piece of work ahead of publication, this will not affect consideration of the work for publication. See also our embargo guidelines for journalists and scientists.

Back to Contents

16. Studies Sponsored by Specific Funders

Pharmaceutical companies. We support GPP2 Good Publication Practice for Communicating Company-Sponsored Medical Research.

Tobacco industry. PLOS Medicine, PLOS Biology, and PLOS ONE will not consider for publication papers in which any of the research costs or authors' salaries have been funded, in whole or in part, by a tobacco company. For an editorial giving the reasoning behind these journals' policy, see: The PLOS Medicine Editors (2010) doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000237.

Back to Contents

17. Biosecurity and Dual Use Research of Concern

PLOS recognizes that certain research may fall into the category of "dual use research of concern". This is defined by the NSABB as any "biological research with legitimate scientific purpose that may be misused to pose a biologic threat to public health and/or national security." As an Open Access publisher, PLOS remains committed to the widespread dissemination of research while being sensitive to the issues of responsible publication standards. We expect that the potential risks of publishing a scientific paper will outweigh the benefits in only the rarest circumstances. On occasion, PLOS reserves the right to consider manuscript submissions within this context. In addition to the usual scientific scrutiny, such submissions may also be referred to an internal PLOS Dual Use Committee for further deliberation. Authors submitting to any PLOS journal are obligated to disclose potential bioethics/dual use concerns to the journal office at the time of initial submission.

Back to Contents

18. FAQs for Editorial Policy

Q. Why does PLOS require that data underlying research published in PLOS journals be made publicly available?

A. PLOS strongly believes that, to best foster scientific progress, the underlying data from an article should be made freely available for researchers to use, wherever this is legal and ethical. Data availability allows validation, replication, reanalysis, new analysis, reinterpretation, or inclusion into meta-analyses, facilitates reproducibility of research and extends the value of the investment made in funding scientific research. Thus, PLOS believes that ensuring access to the underlying data should be an intrinsic part of the scientific publishing process. Furthermore, by getting data into the right place on publication we can reduce the burden on authors in unearthing old data, retaining old hard drives and answering email requests.

Effective data sharing leads to more citations and should lead to more offers of co-authorship and greater opportunities. We understand that some authors may not want to share data, just as some choose not to make their articles available Open Access, but believe that most authors publish their work precisely in order to allow others to benefit from it. More importantly researchers want to see their work used and cited by others. Making that easier can benefit everyone.

Q. To what data does this policy apply?

A. The policy applies to the dataset used to reach the conclusions drawn in the manuscript with related metadata and methods, and any additional data required to replicate the reported study findings in their entirety. You need not submit your entire dataset, or all raw data collected during an investigation, but you must provide the portion that is relevant to the specific study.

Q. What should I do if the PLOS Data Policy does not appear to take into account my type of data?

A. If after reviewing the policy and FAQs, you have questions about how the policy applies to your data, please contact the relevant PLOS journal or We will consider each situation on a case-by-case basis.

Q. How should the data be made available?

A. PLOS strongly recommends that data be made available in a public repository. Repositories may be subject-specific (eg, GenBank for sequences, for clinical trials data, and PDB for structures), general (Dryad or FigShare), or institutional, as long as DOIs or accession numbers are provided and the data are at least as open as CCBY. Alternatively, data may be made available in supporting information files (preferably in a file format from which data can be efficiently extracted) or in the manuscript itself.

Q: What if my dataset is too large to submit to a repository?

A: For very large datasets that are difficult to deposit in a repository, we encourage you to note details of your situation when submitting your data availability information to PLOS and we will work with you to find a solution.

Q. What are the exceptions to making the data publicly available?

A: The exceptions to making the data publicly available are:

  • Data cannot be publically available for ethical or legal reasons, e.g., public availability would compromise patient privacy, or could represent some other threat such as specific locations of fossil deposits or endangered species. Please contact us via the journal office or at if you have concerns about the ethics or legality of sharing your data and they do not fit one of these criteria.
  • Data were obtained from a third party, i.e., the authors did not generate the primary dataset themselves. (This may also apply to component sets of data used as part of a meta-analysis, see below.) If this is the case, details of the source and contact information should be provided that others can use to request access.

Q. My funding agency or government law only permits sharing of human participants data with researchers with whom they have a written agreement. What should I do?

A. Please provide the contact information of the individuals and institution(s) where an interested researcher would need to apply to start the process to gain access to the data. If you have questions, please contact the relevant journal or

Q. The national privacy standards that apply to my research would seem to prevent my publishing the research in PLOS. What should I do?

A. None of the policy is intended to over-rule local regulations, legislation or ethical frameworks. However, note that authors are probably already committing to providing access to data on request when they sign agreements with many journals, not just PLOS. It is these kinds of issues that we would be very keen to work with the relevant bodies to help educate researchers on their local obligations and how they might need to adapt or declare limitations on data access when they publish their work. Where these frameworks prevent or limit data release, these limitations should be made clear at the time of publication to anyone who reads the paper.

Q: I need to make my data "available on request" because of privacy concerns but my institution does not have a Data Access Committee and the IRB is not willing to take this on. What should I do?

A. While PLOS strongly believes that data should be freely available, we recognize that in some instances patient privacy or other concerns may preclude making data freely available to all, and that not all institutions have Data Access Committees at this time. If that is the case, please note details of your situation when submitting your data availability information to PLOS. We are still investigating potential solutions to this issue and until we have determined a standard course of action, we will work with authors for whom this presents a challenge. We encourage academic institutions without a data access committee to consider the importance of this function for their research and researchers.

Q: I want to run additional analyses on my dataset for future studies. What portion of my dataset do I need to make freely accessible?

A. The PLOS Data Policy states that the minimal dataset needs to be made available. The "minimal dataset" consists "of the dataset used to reach the conclusions drawn in the manuscript with related metadata and methods, and any additional data required to replicate the reported study findings in their entirety." This does not mean that you must submit your entire dataset, or absolutely all raw data collected during an investigation, but that you must provide the portion that is relevant to the specific study.

Q. I don't want to share my data because another researcher may “scoop” me using my dataset.

A. PLOS believes that after publication (in particular, after publication in an Open Access journal), data underlying a study should be available for re-use by others. This is not just our view: it was the principle underlying the very first journal: the motto of the UK's Royal Society can be roughly translated as “never take someone's word for it”. Many institutions and funding agencies (e.g., NIH, Research Councils UK) already require data relating to publications be stored for up to ten years and to be shared with the minimal possible restrictions.

Q. What if I cannot provide accession numbers or DOIs at submission?

A. We understand that accession numbers or DOIs may not be available until a paper has been accepted, although once a decision to accept has been made, we cannot proceed with publishing the paper until the accession numbers or DOIs are received.

Q. What if the data are needed for peer review but are not yet publicly available?

A. Many repositories permit private access for review purposes, and have policy for public release at publication. If this is not possible, authors can provide the data via other means, such as zipped files via email, dropbox etc. Please contact the relevant journal office or for assistance.

Q: What if I am submitting an individual patient data meta-analysis?

A: For an individual patient data meta-analysis, authors should make freely available data that can be shared legally and ethically. If authors cannot share the data, they should provide information on how to access the datasets used in the study as specified under “data available on request” or “data available from third parties.”

Q. How can I make a very large amount of data available through a repository without a DOI?

A. Authors are encouraged to provide the information they have regarding accessing the data from a repository (eg, URLs, registration numbers, and other identifying information). Authors should submit their manuscript and PLOS will work with them to determine how best to present the information.

Q. I cannot afford the cost of depositing a very large amount of data. What should I do?

A. PLOS encourages authors to contact their institutions if they have difficulty providing access to the data underlying the research. Many institutions and funding agencies (e.g., NIH, Research Councils UK) share this view and make data sharing a requirement. Regardless, authors facing these challenges are encouraged to submit their manuscript and PLOS will work with them to help find a solution.

Q. I don't have the time or institutional infrastructure to deposit all my data. What should I do?

A. We encourage you to contact your institution if you have difficulty. If you have questions, please contact the relevant journal office or

Q. What if data are found to not be accessible or other issues are found after publication?

A. As is our current policy, we will follow up with the authors and take action as necessary. We reserve the right to issue corrections, notifications, or retractions when authors do not comply with our policies.

Q. My paper was under consideration at PLOS before March 3, 2014. Does it need to adhere to the new policy?

A. Manuscripts submitted prior to March 3rd will not be required to include the Data Availability information or include a Data Availability statement (although authors who would like to include are welcome to).

Q. What if my question is not addressed here?

A. Authors who have questions about the policy, or readers who have difficulty accessing data, are encouraged to contact the relevant journal office or

Back to Contents