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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.
Editor invited The journal is identifying potential editors for the submission.
Under review The handling editor has begun to invite peer reviewers to evaluate the submission.
Required reviews complete Some or all assigned reviewers have completed their reviews.
Decision in process The handling editor has entered a decision but the decision is not yet finalized and has not been sent to the authors.

Editorial Process

Initial checks

New submissions go through an in-house quality control check to ensure adherence to our policies and requirements, including:

  • ethical requirements for human and animal experimentation
  • financial disclosures
  • competing interests
  • data deposition

Manuscripts will not be seen by an Academic Editor or peer reviewers until they pass this check.

We aim to check manuscripts as efficiently as possible, but timing may vary depending on whether we need to return the submission to the author for follow-up queries or additional information.

Editor assignment

After a manuscript passes the quality control check, it is assigned to an Academic Editor according to relevant expertise. See the list of Editorial Board members. The Academic Editor is asked to evaluate the manuscript based on the PLOS ONE criteria for publication. Editors can choose to perform the evaluation on the basis of their own expertise, or assign external reviewers.

How long does it take to assign an Academic Editor?

The length of time it takes to assign an editor may vary depending on editor availability or the time of year (e.g., winter or summer holidays).

 

Can authors suggest an Academic Editor?

Authors can enter the names of suggested Academic Editors in the submission form, but this does not guarantee that the suggested editor will be assigned to the manuscript.

 

Will authors know which Academic Editor is assigned?

The editor’s identity is anonymous until the manuscript receives a decision.

Peer review

The Academic Editor decides whether reviews from additional experts are needed to evaluate the manuscript. After agreeing to review a manuscript, external reviewers are typically granted 10 days to complete the assignment. We will follow up with late reviewers and keep authors informed if there are any delays.

Will authors know who is reviewing their manuscript?

Reviewers’ identities are anonymous unless a reviewer indicates otherwise.

Can authors ask to exclude reviewers? 

Authors may enter the names of potential peer reviewers they wish to exclude from consideration in 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.

How many reviewers will a manuscript have?

The majority of PLOS ONE submissions are evaluated by 2 external reviewers, but it is up to the Academic Editor to determine the number of reviews required.

When reviews have been received, authors may see the status “Required Reviews Complete.” Please note that additional reviews may still be pending after this status is activated.

Editorial decisions

The final decision on a manuscript is made by the Academic Editor. The time to receive a decision depends on how long it takes for the editor to assess the reviews.

While the Academic Editor is entering the decision, authors may see the status “Decision in Process.” When the decision is final, authors will receive the notification by email and see the decision term in the submission system.

What are the possible decision outcomes?

After evaluation, the Academic Editor chooses between the following decisions:

  • Accept
  • Minor Revision
  • Major Revision
  • Reject

Revisions

Authors who receive a decision of Minor Revision or Major Revision have 45 days to resubmit the revised manuscript.

In most cases, the revised manuscript will be re-assigned to the original Academic Editor. The Academic Editor will determine if additional input is needed from reviewers.

Read the guidelines for revised manuscripts.

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.

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

Appeals

Authors may submit a formal appeal for rejected submissions. Appeal requests must be made in writing to plosone@plos.org with the word “appeal” in the subject line. Authors must provide detailed reasons for the appeal and point-by-point responses to the reviewers' and/or Academic Editor's comments.

Decisions on appeals are final without exception. Priority is given to new submissions, so the appeal process may take longer than the original submission process.

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.