Other Article Types

The PLOS Medicine Magazine is for commentary, debate, analysis, guidance, and review of topics in health and health research. Articles are a mix of commissioned and unsolicited material. Authors of unsolicited articles are encouraged to send a presubmission inquiry via our online submission system so that we can assess the suitability of the topic ahead of formal submission.

Magazine articles should be aimed at a general medical audience, and all of the key assertions should be supported by evidence. Three to five short, bulleted summary points are required, in place of an abstract. Titles should not include jargon, cliché, or idioms (e.g., “Mind the gap,” “Think outside the box,” “Apples and oranges,” or “Paradigm shift”).

The PLOS Medicine Magazine has the following sections:


Editorials are written by the PLOS Medicine editors and published monthly.

The PLOS Medicine Debate

These articles will discuss important but controversial issues in clinical practice, public health policy, or health in general. Debates will be mostly commissioned, from two or more authors with differing points of view.

The usual format is that two authors will have the opportunity to express their opinion on a topic of clinical or public health importance within 1000 words, 10 references maximum, and one display item. Each piece will then be sent to the other participant who will be allowed up to 1000 words to respond. Authors should aim to produce a constructive criticism of their opponent's views.

In some cases, we will commission a series of at least three different viewpoints on a topic.


Chapman S (2012) The Case For a Smoker's License. PLoS Med 9(11): e1001342. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001342

Collin J (2012) The Case Against a Smoker's License. PLoS Med 9(11): e1001343. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001343

Gruskin S, Raad Z (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? Moving Toward Assessment. PLoS Med 7(9): e1000310. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000310

Hunt P, Khosla R (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? The Perspective of the Former United Nations Special Rapporteur (2002-2008). PLoS Med 7(9): e1000330. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000330

Ritter GS (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? The Merck Perspective. PLoS Med 7(9): e1000343. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000343


Essays are opinion pieces, grounded in evidence, on a topic of broad interest to a general medical audience. They should be up to 1500 words long, with up to 12 references and 2 display items (tables, figures, boxes). Please use a series of sub-headings to guide readers through the article, and cite the key evidence in support of your assertions. In general, PLOS Medicine Essays tend to follow a 3-part narrative structure along the lines of: What is the problem? What is the solution? What needs to happen next?


Byass P, de Courten M, Graham WJ, Laflamme L, McCaw-Binns A, et al. (2013) Reflections on the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Estimates. PLoS Med 10(7): e1001477. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001477

Redelmeier DA, McLellan BA (2013) Modern Medicine is Neglecting Road Traffic Crashes. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001463. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001463

Tomlinson M, Rotheram-Borus MJ, Swartz L, Tsai AC (2013) Scaling Up mHealth: Where is the Evidence? PLoS Med 10(2): e1001382. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001382

Guidelines and Guidance

The Guidelines and Guidance section contains advice on conducting and reporting research. Articles may raise awareness of emerging methods in biomedical research, announce a new reporting standard or consensus-type statement, or provide a “how to” guide about statistics, study design, or other methodological issues.


Better Reporting, Better Research: Guidelines and Guidance in PLOS Medicine. The PLOS Medicine Editors PLOS Medicine 5(4): e99. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050099.

It is important that your full article provide details about the method by which the group achieve consensus about the guidelines or guidance you are reporting. The following must be explicitly detailed in Guidelines and Guidance articles:

  • How the panel/experts were selected (as this is an obvious and potential major source of bias, for example)
  • How many potential participants declined/failed to participate
  • How the workshop was conducted and, crucially, how agreement was reached re the various recommendations
  • How the panel ensured dissenting views were aired and considered
  • Unresolved issues
  • A frank discussion of the strengths and limitations of the processes used.

Articles should not exceed 3000 words and may cite up to 30 references. If you have written a longer paper, please prepare a 3000-word summary and then upload the long version as a Supporting Information file.


Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, The PRISMA Group (2009) Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement. PLoS Med 6(7): e1000097. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097

MacPherson H, Altman DG, Hammerschlag R, Youping L, Taixiang W, et al. (2010) Revised STandards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture (STRICTA): Extending the CONSORT Statement. PLoS Med 7(6): e1000261. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000261

George A, Young M, Bang A, Chan KY, Rudan I, et al. (2011) Setting Implementation Research Priorities to Reduce Preterm Births and Stillbirths at the Community Level. PLoS Med 8(1): e1000380. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000380

Health in Action

The Health in Action section focuses on innovative health improvement projects. These pieces are often written by health activists, non-governmental organizations, or researchers in low- or middle- income settings. We are particularly interested in featuring articles by groups or individuals who rarely have a voice in medical journals.

The piece should be up to 2000 words, with up to 20 references and 2-3 display items. We ask authors to first set the scene (why was your project needed?), then describe the project itself and discuss any early results of the project and the barriers and difficulties you have faced. Finally, we ask authors to end by looking to the future: where is the project heading next?


Agrawal A, Bhattacharya J, Baranwal N, Bhatla S, Dube S, et al. (2013) Integrating Health Care Delivery and Data Collection in Rural India Using a Rapidly Deployable eHealth Center. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001468. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001468


Perspective articles are commissioned from an expert and discuss the clinical practice or public health implications of a published open access study, usually a study published in PLOS Medicine. We do not publish unsolicited Perspectives.

Articles are up to 1000 words in length, with up to 12 references. 


Kesselheim AS (2013) Rising Health Care Costs and Life-Cycle Management in the Pharmaceutical Market. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001461. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001461

Bhalla K (2013) The Health Effects of Motorization. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001458. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001458

Stuckler D, Basu S (2013) Malignant Neglect: The Failure to Address the Need to Prevent Premature Non-Communicable Disease Morbidity and Mortality. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001466. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001466

Schneider M, Ny A, de Almodovar CR, Carmeliet P. (2006) A New Mouse Model to Study Acquired Lymphedema. PLOS Medicine 3(7): e264. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030264

Gorny MK, Zolla-Pazner S (2006) Immunoprophylaxis against Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV-1. PLOS Medicine 3(7): e259. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030259

Policy Forum

This section is for authors to discuss health issues that have policy implications. We are particularly keen to feature articles by health policymakers that discuss the challenges and opportunities in improving health care for their constituencies. Articles should not exceed 2000 words and may cite up to 30 references.

If you are discussing a particular health policy proposal, first provide the background (why is a particular policy needed?), then outline your proposal and the evidence that supports it, and then describe the challenges that lie ahead in its implementation. The use of display items (tables, figures, boxes) is encouraged. Please keep in mind how others might learn from your experiences. 


Luoto J, Maglione MA, Johnsen B, Chang C, S. Higgs E, et al. (2013) A Comparison of Frameworks Evaluating Evidence for Global Health Interventions. PLoS Med 10(7): e1001469. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001469

Hay SI, George DB, Moyes CL, Brownstein JS (2013) Big Data Opportunities for Global Infectious Disease Surveillance. PLoS Med 10(4): e1001413. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001413

Machingaidze S, Wiysonge CS, Hussey GD (2013) Strengthening the Expanded Programme on Immunization in Africa: Looking Beyond 2015. PLoS Med 10(3): e1001405. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001405

Research in Translation (RIT)

Research in Translation articles are focused on the translation of basic to clinical research, or of clinical evidence to practice or policy. In the context of advancing the reader's understanding of a public health issue or the pathophysiology, prevention, or treatment of a particular disease, these articles should clearly demonstrate how the earlier work led to an advance with clear implications for human health. RiT articles may also raise awareness of an unresolved scientific or practical research question in translational medicine, with clear relevance to human health, in order to help inform future research and policy agendas.

The article should provide sufficient history and background to frame the topic for the reader with a general background in medical science. It should then discuss selected advances with attention to how these are expected to improve care or define future research on the topic. The article should conclude with a summary that includes next steps in applying these improvements.

RIT articles should not exceed 2000 words and 20 references. The use of display items (tables, figures, boxes) is encouraged. We also ask authors to include a box with “The Five Key Papers in the Field.” For each key paper, please give a sentence on why the paper was such a breakthrough.


van der Worp HB, Howells DW, Sena ES, Porritt MJ, Rewell S, et al. (2010) Can Animal Models of Disease Reliably Inform Human Studies? PLoS Med 7(3): e1000245. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000245

Pai M, Ramsay A, O'Brien R (2008) Evidence-based Tuberculosis Diagnosis. PLoS Med 5(7): e156. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050156

Rogerson SJ, Carter R (2008) Severe Vivax Malaria: Newly Recognised or Rediscovered? PLoS Med 5(6): e136. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050136

Edmond K, Zaidi A (2010) New Approaches to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Neonatal Sepsis. PLoS Med 7(3): e1000213. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000213