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Best Practices in Research Reporting

The following policies apply to all PLOS journals, unless otherwise noted.

Research submitted to PLOS must comply with internationally-accepted standards for research practice and reporting, including data management, figure preparation, reproducibility, and reporting guidelines.

We reserve the right to enforce standards that may be more strict than local legal or ethical frameworks. Issues discovered after publication will be addressed according to guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and may lead to a correction, retraction, or expression of concern. We may also contact authors’ institutions as appropriate.

Ethical Oversight

We uphold rigorous standards for research ethics. Read our policies on human subjects research and animal research

Reporting Research Protocols

PLOS has partnered with protocols.io, an independent Open Access platform, to facilitate the communication of laboratory methodological details to increase reproducibility. We recommend depositing laboratory protocols at protocols.io. Read the materials and methods guidelines for details.

Clinical protocols, and protocols for observational and other non-laboratory investigations, may be uploaded as supporting information. Read the supporting information guidelines for formatting details.

Reporting Guidelines for Specific Study Types

Authors are expected to comply with standard reporting guidelines for study designs. Check the EQUATOR Network for reporting instructions and supporting documentation. Documentation for specific studies should be uploaded as supporting information during manuscript submission. Read the submission guidelines.

Clinical trials

Clinical trial reports must adhere to the relevant reporting guidelines for their study design, such as CONSORT for randomized controlled trials, TREND for non-randomized trials, and other specialized guidelines as appropriate.

Read more about our policy on clinical trials.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Reports of systematic reviews and meta-analyses must adhere to 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.

We support 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.

Observational studies in epidemiology

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.

Biological and biomedical research

We recommend that authors refer to the FAIRsharing Portal for prescriptive checklists for reporting biological and biomedical research where applicable.

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