Other Article Types

While remaining scientifically rigorous, the magazine section of PLOS Biology is inclusive and accessible to a broad audience. All articles submitted to the magazine section should be directed at a readership that extends beyond the traditional research community and that includes scientific educators, students, physicians, patients, and the interested public. Most articles in the magazine section are peer reviewed.

The majority of articles in the magazine section of PLOS Biology are published by invitation only, but if you have a suggestion for a topic in any of the following categories, we will consider the idea. Please submit your suggestions for front matter via our online submission system as a presubmission inquiry. There is no publication fee for front matter articles.

For these article types, you must upload the article file in DOC, DOCX, or RTF. You do not need to include an Abstract or an Author Summary unless otherwise requested by an editor. You may find that some of the fields on the submission form are not appropriate to your front matter article—please enter a full stop/period in these boxes. If you have any questions about this process, please contact the journal team.


PLOS Biology publishes visionary and provocative essays that cover broad topics of general interest to life scientists. Essays might explore the implications of recent advances in a given field or global methods that promise to have broad-ranging consequences across fields, investigate an emerging trend with cross-disciplinary implications, or explain the challenges of a nascent field.

Challenges Series

The Challenges Series, which appears periodically in the Essays section, features short articles highlighting fundamental challenges that cut across and help unify different sub-disciplines in biology. The series editor is Simon Levin.

Unsolved Mysteries

Unsolved Mysteries discuss a topic of biological importance that is poorly understood and in need of research attention, and may explore issues that have been ignored, pose technically and conceptually challenging questions, or involve puzzling phenomena with potentially devastating consequences. The articles are intended to stimulate students and other scientists to think about future research possibilities outside their areas of expertise.


Perspectives provide experts with a forum to comment on topical or controversial issues of broad interest.

Public Engagement

The Public Engagement with Science series, which appears periodically in the Perspectives section, investigates, through specific case studies, whether, and under what conditions, it is possible to engage the public in scientific issues in meaningful ways in decision-making about the innovation pathways of biosciences. The series is edited by Claire Marris and Nikolas Rose.


Primers provide concise and accessible background information for a particular area in biology that is featured in a PLOS Biology research article. Unsolicited primers are not considered.


Selected PLOS Biology research articles are accompanied by a synopsis written for a general audience to provide non-experts with insight into the significance of the published work. They are commissioned only.


Editorials are written in-house by members of the editorial staff or by members of the Editorial Board.

Book Review/Science in the Media

These short reviews critique books, films, plays, and other media that deal with some aspect of the biological sciences.

Community Pages

The Community Page is a forum for organizations and societies to highlight their efforts to enhance the dissemination and value of scientific knowledge.

Cool Tools Series

The Cool Tools Series, which appears periodically in the Community Page section, features innovative resources designed to enhance the understanding, dissemination, or practice of science.

Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

The Historical and Philosophical Perspectives section provides professional historians and philosophers of science with a forum to reflect on topical issues in contemporary biology.


Formal Comments

In exceptional circumstances we may consider publication of a Formal Comment. Formal Comments are peer-reviewed, indexed in PubMed, associated with specific articles published at PLOS Biology, and submitted usually, but not exclusively, by invitation. Formal Comments must be coherent, concise and well-argued, are subject to PLOS Biology Criteria for Publication and will be peer-reviewed. Editors may invite a Formal Comment from the authors of the original article in response.

Education Series

The “Education Series” aims to take full advantage of web-based Open Access publishing to create an interactive, dynamic resource for educators, researchers, students, and the interested public to share and discuss key ideas, methods, tools, and activities to enhance understanding of fundamental questions in biology.

Articles published in the series will highlight innovative educational initiatives or strategies. Articles may focus on a specific field (for example, evolutionary biology or biochemistry), draw on recent results published in Open Access journals, and feature only open education resources—that is, materials that have no copyright or re-use restrictions.

Each article will appear with at least one resource (for example, videotaped seminars, animations, tutorials, PowerPoint slide sets, links to databases with associated experiments and analyses activities) to supplement the article.


Read the editorial announcing the launch of the Education Series.

Length guidelines

A page accommodates approximately 1200 words and one image/table or box. Articles may be 2-3 pages, but we encourage you to focus on the resources rather than presenting a 2500 article.

Organization of the manuscript

  • Concise title — fewer than 50 characters
  • The text should be written as a single narrative and be accessible to an educated layperson.

Example of an educational lesson/resource

Charkoudian LK, Fitzgerald JT, Khosla C, Champlin A (2010) In Living Color: Bacterial Pigments as an Untapped Resource in the Classroom and Beyond. PLOS Biol 8(10): e1000510. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000510

Example of an education initiative

Hingamp P, Brochier C, Talla E, Gautheret D, Thieffry D, et al. 2008 Metagenome Annotation Using a Distributed Grid of Undergraduate Students. PLOS Biol 6(11): e296. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060296

Questions for authors/checklist

Which of the following disciplines is most closely related to the content of your article (if more than one, rank in order of relevance)

  • Plant Biology
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Ecology
  • Developmental biology
  • Bioinformatics/genomics
  • Genetics/molecular biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Microbiology
  • Cell biology
  • Biochemistry

Which of the following best describes the format of your article?

  • A description of an education initiative (Annotathon-type; see Hingcamp et al., link above)
  • A set of teaching tools (e.g. PowerPoint or activity) related to an Open Acess research article, with the education series article describing how to use them
  • A set of teaching tools related to a public database, with the article text describing how to use them

What is the level of student targeted by the material presented in your article? If undergraduate, indicate major.

Please describe how your article and its associated resources have been tested, assessed and evaluated. Are the results of the evaluation included in the article?

Article checklist

Teaching Tools Box

How might a teacher incorporate these activities into a classroom? What resources (material, online, etc) are required and where can they be found?

Concepts at a Glance Box

What disciplines (e.g., biochemistry, ecology, genetics) do the activities draw on and what concepts should students learn (e.g., stoichiometry, species-area relationships, Mendelian inheritance) during activities or lessons? You may include target age group, if appropriate.

Evaluation Tools

How do you recommend evaluating the effectiveness of the material, with, e.g., pre- and post-test examples. What would be some questions that you’d ask students before and after a particular lesson (or activity) to gauge the impact the lesson had on their understanding of relevant concepts, for example.

Examples of boxes

Charkoudian LK, Fitzgerald JT, Khosla C, Champlin A (2010) In Living Color: Bacterial Pigments as an Untapped Resource in the Classroom and Beyond. PLOS Biol 8(10): e1000510. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000510