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Editorial and Peer Review Process

Manuscript Status

Authors can check the status of a manuscript at any time in the submission system. Authors will also be notified by email when a decision is made. 

Understanding manuscript statuses
 
Manuscript Submitted The journal has received the submission and is screening it for basic technical requirements. 
With Editor The manuscript is under editorial consideration by one or more members of the Editorial Board who will decide whether or not to send it out for peer review.
Under Review The handling editor has begun to invite peer reviewers to evaluate the submission. 
Decision in Process The reviews have been received, and the editors are discussing and finalizing the decision. Very rarely, editors may need to seek additional reviewers at this stage. 

Criteria for Publication

To be considered for publication in PLOS Genetics, any given manuscript must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Originality

  • High importance to researchers in the field

  • Broad interest to researchers in genetics and genomics

  • Rigorous methodology

  • Substantial evidence for its conclusions

For manuscripts that focus on descriptive genomics, the PLOS Genetics editors are generally most enthusiastic about those that also include innovative theoretical treatment or follow-up experimentation that reveals novel and significant biological insight. For work in which disruption of gene function in model organisms plays an important role, compelling evidence of causality and specificity is required, generally supported by germline mutations. Experiments based on alternative approaches, e.g., morpholinos, F0 gene editing, siRNA, or shRNA, are generally not sufficient unless accompanied by rigorous and thorough justification.

Editorial Process

Our aim is to provide all authors with an efficient, courteous, and constructive editorial process. To achieve its required level of quality, PLOS Genetics is highly selective in the manuscripts that it publishes; rejection rates are high.

To ensure the fairest and most objective decision-making, the editorial process is run as a partnership between the PLOS Genetics Editors-in-Chief, a team of Section Editors, and a group of academic experts who act as Associate Editors. These individuals are leaders in their fields and represent the full breadth of genetics and genomics.

Submitted manuscripts are first reviewed by the Editors-in-Chief or the Section Editors, who may decide to reject the paper or send it on to an Associate Editor for further review. The Associate Editor is most often a member of the PLOS Genetics Editorial Board, but occasionally a guest of the Board is invited to serve in this capacity.

Presubmission inquiries

If you have submitted a presubmission inquiry, responses are normally provided within a few working days. Responses may take longer if consultation between members of the Editorial Board is required.

If you are invited to submit your manuscript, we will do our best to provide an expeditious initial assessment of the complete manuscript for suitability and then, if warranted, external peer review.

The Associate Editor evaluates the paper and decides whether it describes a sufficient body of work to support a major advance in a particular field. If so, the paper is sent out for external peer review, at which stage the technical and scientific merits of the work are carefully considered.

Upon submission of a manuscript, authors are asked whether they wish to exclude any specific Associate Editors or reviewers from 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. 

The selection of appropriate and responsive reviewers is paramount for the success of the review process. We decide on reviewers for a particular manuscript based on many factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations of authors and Associate Editors, and the Associate Editor’s own knowledge of a reviewer's past performance.

Once the reviews have been received and considered by the editors, a decision letter to the corresponding author is drafted and sent.

The decision will be within one of the following categories:

  • Reject
  • Major revision
  • Minor revision
  • Accept

Anonymity

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.

In most cases, editors remain anonymous to authors until the first decision letter is issued. The Associate Editor’s name is also indicated in the published article.

The names of the authors are not anonymous to reviewers or editors during review so that they can assess potential conflicts of interest.

Revisions

If you have received a revise decision, read the guidelines for revising your manuscript.

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.

If, after peer review, the editors consider that a manuscript is scientifically sound, but does not meet PLOS Genetics’s criteria for novelty and impact, authors may be offered the opportunity to transfer their submission directly to PLOS ONE for acceptance with or without minor revisions. This service is intended to reduce the time to acceptance by eliminating the need for further rounds of review.

We trust that reviewers for any PLOS journal are willing to have their reviews considered by the editors of another PLOS journal. 

Appeals

PLOS Genetics encourages input from all community members regarding editorial and publishing policy. However, appeals of manuscript decisions must be:

  • limited to the specific manuscript in question

  • made only by the corresponding author

  • emailed to plosgenetics@plos.org

We do not consider appeals by telephone or other informal means.

Appeals will only be considered when a reviewer or editor is thought to have made a significant factual error or when his/her objectivity is compromised by a documented competing interest, and when a reversal based on either of these grounds would change the original decision. The journal staff will ask for confirmation of the reason(s) in the first instance.

If the authors proceed, the original editor(s) will usually be asked to consider the appeal. Additional editorial board members may also be consulted. The editors will try to handle an appeal expeditiously; however, each appeal is unique and the journal cannot guarantee the turnaround time or the outcome.

Appeals of decisions made before review will only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Appeals of decisions noted as final will not be considered.

Accepted Manuscripts

If your manuscript has been accepted, read about what to expect and how you can expedite the publication process.

Contact

If you have questions at any stage in the process, please email us.

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