The following policies apply to all PLOS journals, unless otherwise noted.
Everyone listed as an author should meet our criteria for authorship. Everyone who meets our criteria for authorship must be listed as an author.
We expect that all authors will take public responsibility for the content of the manuscript submitted to PLOS. The contributions of all authors must be described.
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 require that all co-authors confirm their assent to publication by email.
Qualifying for Authorship
Authorship criteria is based on the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals.
The ICMJE lists four conditions for authorship credit. Authors must meet all four conditions in order to be listed.
- Substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, and
- Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, and
- Final approval of the version to be published, and
- Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
The ICMJE recommends that group authorship adhere to the following guidelines:
When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. 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. Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.
When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation in the manuscript title page and identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments.
Please be aware that as of October 2016, the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) policy has changed and PubMed will only index individuals and the names of consortia or group authors listed in the author byline itself. Individual consortium/group author members listed in the author byline must qualify for authorship according to our criteria. Read the submission guidelines for requirements about how to include this information in your submission.
The contributions of all authors must be described. PLOS has adopted the CRediT Taxonomy to describe each author’s individual contributions to the work. The submitting author is responsible for providing the contributions of all authors at submission. We expect that all authors will have reviewed, discussed, and agreed to their individual contributions ahead of this time. Contributions will be published with the final article, and they should accurately reflect contributions to the work.
|Contributor Role||Role Definition|
Ideas; formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims.
|Data Curation||Management activities to annotate (produce metadata), scrub data and maintain research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself) for initial use and later reuse.|
|Formal Analysis||Application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other formal techniques to analyze or synthesize study data.|
|Funding Acquisition||Acquisition of the financial support for the project leading to this publication.|
|Investigation||Conducting a research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments, or data/evidence collection.|
|Development or design of methodology; creation of models|
|Project Administration||Management and coordination responsibility for the research activity planning and execution.|
|Resources||Provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or other analysis tools.|
|Software||Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components.|
|Supervision||Oversight and leadership responsibility for the research activity planning and execution, including mentorship external to the core team.|
|Validation||Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs.|
|Visualization||Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically visualization/data presentation.|
|Writing – Original Draft Preparation||Creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft (including substantive translation).|
|Writing – Review & Editing||Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work by those from the original research group, specifically critical review, commentary or revision – including pre- or post-publication stages.|
Contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be mentioned in the Acknowledgments. It is expected that those being acknowledged have given their permission to be named.
Corresponding Author Responsibilities
The corresponding author takes responsibility for and speaks on behalf of all authors.
- Ensure that the manuscript is in full adherence with all PLOS editorial and publishing policies.
- Ensure that all authors have access to the final version of the manuscript that is submitted to the journal, and agree to the author list and author contributions.
- Ensure that all authors have seen the final draft of the manuscript before it is published.
- Provide to the journal written confirmation that all authors consent to any requested changes in the manuscript’s authorship.
- Continue to be the point of contact for queries about the published paper.
- Inform all coauthors of any matters arising and ensure such matters are dealt with promptly.
Professional Medical Writers
The involvement of any professional medical writer in the publication process must be declared. The European Medical Writers' Association Guidelines contain additional information about the role of medical writers.
PLOS journals follow the COPE guidelines for changes in authorship.
Changing the author list after submission requires agreement from all authors. This includes additions, deletions, and changes in ordering. Requests must come from the corresponding author along with an explanation for the change. If the change is deemed to be appropriate, the corresponding author must receive and provide to PLOS the consent to the change from all the authors, including any being added, deleted, or reordered.
Authorship issues identified after publication may result in a correction. In the case of an authorship dispute, the journal will not arbitrate. If the authors are unable to resolve the dispute themselves, we will raise the issue with the authors’ institution(s) and abide by its guidelines.
PLOS endorses ORCID and requires that all corresponding authors provide an ORCID iD when submitting a manuscript. We encourage coauthors to register and use their ORCID as well.
We publish the corresponding author's ORCID iD as well as any ORCIDs provided by coauthors if the manuscript is accepted. We participate in the auto-update feature implemented by Crossref such that when a paper is published, the authors’ ORCIDs are deposited and subsequently used to update each author’s ORCID record. Read more about ORCID.
Editor and Reviewer Requirements
Editors should be aware of the author list and author affiliations when they invite reviewers to review a manuscript in order to reduce the likelihood of inviting individuals with potentially competing interests that would disqualify them from participating in the peer review process.
Editors and reviewers should contact the journal with any concerns about the author list or if they identify any potentially competing interests that should be declared or that mean they should recuse themselves from the process.
Watch this short video for instructions on how to register for an ORCID iD and link it to your Editorial Manager profile.
New submissions go through an in-house quality control check to ensure adherence to our policies and requirements, including:
- ethical requirements for human and animal experimentation
- financial disclosures
- competing interests
- data deposition
Manuscripts will not be seen by an Academic Editor or peer reviewers until they pass this check.
We aim to check manuscripts as efficiently as possible, but timing may vary depending on whether we need to return the submission to the author for follow-up queries or additional information.
After a manuscript passes the quality control check, it is assigned to an Academic Editor according to relevant expertise. See the list of Editorial Board members. The Academic Editor is asked to evaluate the manuscript based on the PLOS ONE criteria for publication. Editors can choose to reject the manuscript on the basis of their own expertise, or assign external reviewers for further evaluation.
How long does it take to assign an Academic Editor?
The length of time it takes to assign an editor may vary depending on editor availability or the time of year (e.g., winter or summer holidays).
Can authors suggest an Academic Editor?
Authors can enter the names of suggested Academic Editors in the submission form, but this does not guarantee that the suggested editor will be assigned to the manuscript.
The editor’s identity is anonymous until the manuscript receives a decision.
The Academic Editor decides whether reviews from additional experts are needed to evaluate the manuscript. After agreeing to review a manuscript, external reviewers are typically granted 10 days to complete the assignment. We will follow up with late reviewers and keep authors informed if there are any delays.
Will authors know who is reviewing their manuscript?
Reviewers are anonymous by default. Reviewers’ identities are not revealed to authors or to other reviewers unless reviewers specifically request to be identified by signing their names at the end of their comments.
Will authors know the identity of the editor reviewing their manuscript?
The Academic Editor is anonymous to authors and reviewers unless and until a manuscript is accepted for publication. The editor’s name is then indicated in the published article.
Will editors and reviewers know the names of authors during review?
The names of the authors are not anonymous to reviewers or editors during review so that they can assess potential conflicts of interest.
Can authors ask to exclude reviewers?
Authors may enter the names of potential peer reviewers they wish to exclude from consideration in the peer review of their manuscript. The editorial team will respect these requests so long as this does not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of the submission.
How many reviewers will a manuscript have?
The majority of PLOS ONE submissions are evaluated by 2 external reviewers, but it is up to the Academic Editor to determine the number of reviews required.
When reviews have been received, authors may see the status “Required Reviews Complete.” Please note that additional reviews may still be pending after this status is activated.
Read the guidelines for reviewers.
The final decision on a manuscript is made by the Academic Editor. The time to receive a decision depends on how long it takes for the editor to assess the reviews.
While the Academic Editor is entering the decision, authors may see the status “Decision in Process.” When the decision is final, authors will receive the notification by email and see the decision term in the submission system.
What are the possible decision outcomes?
After evaluation, the Academic Editor chooses between the following decisions:
- Minor Revision
- Major Revision
Authors who receive a decision of Minor Revision or Major Revision have 45 days to resubmit the revised manuscript.
In most cases, the revised manuscript will be re-assigned to the original Academic Editor. The Academic Editor will determine if additional input is needed from reviewers.
Read the guidelines for revised manuscripts.
Transferring to Other Journals
Authors can request that submissions (with referee reports, if relevant) rejected from one PLOS journal be transferred to another PLOS journal for further consideration there. Manuscripts will never be transferred between the journals without an author’s consent.
We trust that reviewers for any PLOS journal are willing to have their reviews considered by the editors of another PLOS journal.
Authors may submit a formal appeal for rejected submissions. Appeal requests must be made in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “appeal” in the subject line. Authors must provide detailed reasons for the appeal and point-by-point responses to the reviewers' and/or Academic Editor's comments.
Decisions on appeals are final without exception. Priority is given to new submissions, so the appeal process may take longer than the original submission process.
If you have questions at any stage in the process, please email us.