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Journal Information


PLOS Complex Systems will bring together all researchers working to understand complex systems. We will partner with the community to drive Open Science practices forward to enable rapid dissemination of groundbreaking results, cross-fertilization of knowledge, and increased collaboration to address the fundamental questions that affect individuals and global societies.


PLOS Complex Systems is a community-led journal focused on research to understand the drivers and behaviors of complex systems. Research will cover networks and network theory, nonlinear relationships, and the use of data, and computational analysis to model and understand complex systems.

Work published in this title will also consider the interface between the research and society, including social inclusion.

Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to: chaotic systems; climate dynamics; collective systems; complex systems; complexity theory; criticality; dynamical systems; economics; game theory; information spreading; language; networks and network theory; network dynamics; nonlinear systems; pattern formation; risk modeling; social networks; stochasticity; systems biology; urban system.


PLOS Complex Systems features engaging primary Research Articles, and Reviews, Opinions, and Editorials.

Journal Sections

PLOS Complex Systems is comprised of the following research sections:

Human Behavior and Social Complexity
Explores complex systems in society and computational social science. Research published in this section examines how human interaction and the integration of individuals into different contexts combine to create a complex system. Examples include economics, inclusion, social networks, and computational understandings of human behavior and psychology.

Urban and Industrial Complexity
Investigates complex systems in man-made features or phenomenon. Research published in this section examines interactions related to systems of infrastructure, land use, or cyber-physical integration.

Complex Systems in Nature
Focuses on the complexity of living organisms and the ways in which they interact with their environments. Examples include evolution, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and systems biology.

Climate and Natural Hazards
Deepens understanding of our climate and the impacts of climate change through the lens of complex systems. Research published in this section also addresses natural hazards and the human impacts of changes in these systems.

Human Health
Examines complex systems that affect human health at an individual and population level, including aging, neuroscience and psychology, epidemiology, health systems and sensory science.

Computational Complexity
Focuses on development and computational analysis. Research published in this section includes risk modeling, dynamic systems, ubiquitous computing, machine learning, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and computer vision.

Concepts in Complexity
Empowers analysis of complex systems by advancing overarching and transdisciplinary concepts such as self-organizing behavior, criticality, pattern formation, stochasticity, and optimization

Criteria for Publication

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

  • High importance and broad interest to the transdisciplinary community of researchers who seek to understand complex relationships through a lens of networks, nonlinear relationships, and the use of data, and computational analysis
  • High methodological rigor and ethical standards
  • Substantial evidence for its conclusions
  • Clearly outlined utility and accessibility for the broader community
  • Follow appropriate standards and practice of open science
  • Originality


Consideration of complementary research

Scientists commonly refer to research as “scooped” when independent groups working on the same topic reach similar conclusions and one group publishes the results first. Although originality is one criterion for studies published in PLOS Complex Systems, “scooped” manuscripts that confirm, replicate, extend, or are complementary to a recently published, significant advance are still eligible for consideration in PLOS Complex Systems. The complementary manuscript must present equally or more rigorous findings than the published study and any submission must also meet the criteria for publication listed above. Authors of the complementary work have six months after the first article’s publication date to submit their manuscript to PLOS Complex Systems. Studies must be performed comprehensively, and preliminary placeholder studies will not be considered.

Editorial Oversight

PLOS Complex Systems is run by an international Editorial Board, headed by the Editor-in-Chief and supported by the Journal Development Manager.


Hocine Cherifi

Editorial Board

View the PLOS Complex Systems Editorial Board.

Submit Your Manuscript

For more information about submitting to PLOS Complex Systems, read our guidelines for preparing a submission.

Publication Fees and Alternative Models

PLOS Complex Systems is supported by Flat Fee Agreements which enable institutions to partner with PLOS and reduce or eliminate publication fees for their authors. 

Authors whose work is primarily funded by an institution geographically located in a Research4Life Group A country publish in PLOS Complex Systems for free. For authors whose funder is based in a Research4Life Group B country, the publication fee will be reduced to $500. A full list of our publication fees, funding initiatives and fee assistance information is available here.

Open Access

PLOS applies the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to works we publish. Under this license, authors agree to make articles legally available for reuse, without permission or fees, for virtually any purpose. Anyone may copy, distribute, or reuse these articles, as long as the author and original source are properly cited. Learn more.

Journal Impact and Article Metrics

PLOS does not consider Impact Factor to be a reliable or useful metric to assess the performance of individual articles. PLOS supports DORA – the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment – and does not promote our journal Impact Factors. We will provide the metric to individuals when specifically requested.

Read more about our pledge with DORA.

PLOS promotes the use of Article-Level Metrics (ALMs), which enable scientists and the general public to engage more dynamically with published research. ALMs reflect the changing impact of research over time, incorporate academic as well as social impacts of research, and assess the impact of research before the accrual of academic citations. Read more about ALMs.

Indexing and Archiving

To ensure research is widely accessible and discoverable, PLOS submits all of our titles to major indexing services for evaluation as soon as possible according to the schedule of the specific service. Once PLOS Complex Systems begins publishing content, we’ll update this page to show where the journal is currently indexed, and which servers we’re continuing to work with. 


PLOS is a nonprofit, Open Access publisher empowering researchers to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication.


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