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Animal Research

The following policy applies to all PLOS journals, unless otherwise noted.

Author Requirements

  • Studies involving animals must be conducted according to internationally-accepted standards.
  • Authors must obtain prior approval from their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or equivalent ethics committee(s).
  • The name of the IACUC or equivalent ethics committee, as well as relevant permit numbers, must be provided at submission.

This information should be reported in the manuscript. Read the submission guidelines.

Non-Human Primates

Non-human primate studies must be performed in accordance with the recommendations of the Weatherall report, The use of non-human primates in research. Manuscripts describing research involving non-human primates must include details of animal welfare, including information about housing, feeding, and environmental enrichment, and steps taken to minimize suffering, including use of anesthesia and method of sacrifice if appropriate.

Reporting Guidelines

We encourage authors to comply with the Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines, developed by the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement & Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs).

The ARRIVE guidelines can be applied to any area of bioscience research using laboratory animals. They aim to improve standards of reporting to ensure that the data from animal experiments can be fully scrutinized, reproduced, and utilized.

Relevant information should be included in the appropriate section of the article (e.g. title, abstract, or methods, etc.), as outlined in the ARRIVE guidelines. Where research could be confused as pertaining to human clinical research, the animal model should also be noted in the article title.

Paleontology and Archaeology Research

PLOS journals require that manuscripts reporting paleontology and archaeology research include descriptions of methods and specimens in sufficient detail to allow the work to be reproduced. Data sets supporting statistical and phylogenetic analyses should be provided, preferably in a format that allows easy re-use.

Under the PLOS data availability policy, any specimen that is erected as a new species, described, or figured must be deposited in an accessible, permanent repository (i.e., public museum or similar institution). If study conclusions depend on specimens that do not fit these criteria, the article will be rejected.

Specimen numbers and complete repository information, including museum name and geographic location, are required for publication. Locality information should be provided in the manuscript as legally allowable, or a statement should be included giving details of the availability of such information to qualified researchers.

If permits were required for any aspect of the work, details should be given of all permits that were obtained, including the full name of the issuing authority. PLOS journals will not publish research on specimens that were obtained without necessary permission or were illegally exported.

Unregulated Research

Where unregulated animals are used or ethics approval is not required by a specific committee, authors should include a clear statement of this fact and the reasons why ethical approval is not required. The journal staff and editors will assess these situations on a case-by-case basis.

Policy Enforcement

All submissions describing research involving animals will be checked by journal staff and editors to ensure that the requirements above are met. Failure to meet requirements may be grounds for rejection.

We reserve the right to reject work that the editors believe has not been conducted to a high ethical standard, even if authors have obtained formal approval or if approval is not required under local regulations.

If concerns are discovered after publication, the journal staff will investigate and, should substantial concerns arise regarding the handling of animals or oversight for the research, we may issue a correction or retraction as appropriate. We also reserve the right to contact the authors’ institution, ethics committee or other appropriate body in relation to these concerns.

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