Manuscript files can be in the following formats: DOC, DOCX, or RTF. Microsoft Word documents should not be locked or protected.
LaTeX manuscripts must be submitted as PDFs. Read the LaTeX guidelines.
|Manuscripts can be any length. There are no restrictions on word count, number of figures, or amount of supporting information.
Use a standard font size and any standard font, except for the font named “Symbol”. To add symbols to the manuscript, use the Insert → Symbol function in your word processor or paste in the appropriate Unicode character.
|Limit manuscript sections and sub-sections to 3 heading levels. Make sure heading levels are clearly indicated in the manuscript text.|
Manuscript text should be double-spaced.
Do not format text in multiple columns.
|Include page numbers and line numbers in the manuscript file. Use continuous line numbers (do not restart the numbering on each page).|
|Footnotes are not permitted. If your manuscript contains footnotes, move the information into the main text or the reference list, depending on the content.|
Manuscripts must be submitted in English.
You may submit translations of the manuscript or abstract as supporting information. Read the supporting information guidelines.
Define abbreviations upon first appearance in the text.
Do not use non-standard abbreviations unless they appear at least three times in the text.
Keep abbreviations to a minimum.
PLOS uses “Vancouver” style, as outlined in the ICMJE sample references.
We recommend using MathType for display and inline equations, as it will provide the most reliable outcome. If this is not possible, Equation Editor or Microsoft's Insert→Equation function is acceptable.
Avoid using MathType, Equation Editor, or the Insert→Equation function to insert single variables (e.g., “a² + b² = c²”), Greek or other symbols (e.g., β, Δ, or ′ [prime]), or mathematical operators (e.g., x, ≥, or ±) in running text. Wherever possible, insert single symbols as normal text with the correct Unicode (hex) values.
Do not use MathType, Equation Editor, or the Insert→Equation function for only a portion of an equation. Rather, ensure that the entire equation is included. Equations should not contain a mix of different equation tools. Avoid “hybrid” inline or display equations, in which part is text and part is MathType, or part is MathType and part is Equation Editor.
Use correct and established nomenclature wherever possible.
Manuscripts should be organized as follows. Instructions for each element appear below the list.
The following elements are required, in order:
The following elements can be renamed as needed and presented in any order:
The following elements are required, in order:
Refer to our downloadable sample files to ensure that your submission meets our formatting requirements:
The compiled submission PDF includes low-resolution preview images of the figures after the reference list. The function of these previews is to allow you to download the entire submission as quickly as possible. Click the link at the top of each preview page to download a high-resolution version of each figure. Links to download Supporting Information files are also available after the reference list.
Include a full title and a short title for the manuscript.
|Full title||200 characters||Specific, descriptive, concise, and comprehensible to readers outside the field||
Impact of cigarette smoke exposure on innate immunity: A Caenorhabditis elegans model
Solar drinking water disinfection (SODIS) to reduce childhood diarrhoea in rural Bolivia: A cluster-randomized, controlled trial
|Short title||70 characters||State the topic of the study||
Cigarette smoke exposure and innate immunitySODIS and childhood diarrhoea
Titles should be written in sentence case (only the first word of the text, proper nouns, and genus names are capitalized). Avoid specialist abbreviations if possible. For clinical trials, systematic reviews, or meta-analyses, the subtitle should include the study design.
All authors must meet the criteria for authorship as outlined in the authorship policy. Those who contributed to the work but do not meet the criteria for authorship can be mentioned in the Acknowledgments. Read more about Acknowledgments.
The corresponding author must provide an ORCID iD at the time of submission by entering it in the user profile in the submission system. Read more about ORCID.
Author names and affiliations
Enter author names on the title page of the manuscript and in the online submission system.
On the title page, write author names in the following order:
- First name (or initials, if used)
- Middle name (or initials, if used)
- Last name (surname, family name)
Each author on the list must have an affiliation. The affiliation includes department, university, or organizational affiliation and its location, including city, state/province (if applicable), and country. Authors have the option to include a current address in addition to the address of their affiliation at the time of the study. The current address should be listed in the byline and clearly labeled “current address.” At a minimum, the address must include the author’s current institution, city, and country.
If an author has multiple affiliations, enter all affiliations on the title page only. In the submission system, enter only the preferred or primary affiliation. Author affiliations will be listed in the typeset PDF article in the same order that authors are listed in the submission.
The submitting author is automatically designated as the corresponding author in the submission system. The corresponding author is the primary contact for the journal office and the only author able to view or change the manuscript while it is under editorial consideration.
The corresponding author role may be transferred to another coauthor. However, note that transferring the corresponding author role also transfers access to the manuscript. (To designate a new corresponding author while the manuscript is still under consideration, watch the video tutorial below.)
Only one corresponding author can be designated in the submission system, but this does not restrict the number of corresponding authors that may be listed on the article in the event of publication. Whoever is designated as a corresponding author on the title page of the manuscript file will be listed as such upon publication. Include an email address for each corresponding author listed on the title page of the manuscript.
How to select a new corresponding author in Editorial Manager
If a manuscript is submitted on behalf of a consortium or group, include its name in the manuscript byline. Do not add it to the author list in the submission system. You may include the full list of members in the Acknowledgments or in a supporting information file.
PubMed only indexes individual consortium or group author members listed in the article byline. If included, these individuals must qualify for authorship according to our criteria.
Provide at minimum one contribution for each author in the submission system. Use the CRediT taxonomy to describe each contribution. Read the policy and the full list of roles.
Contributions will be published with the final article, and they should accurately reflect contributions to the work. The submitting author is responsible for completing this information at submission, and we expect that all authors will have reviewed, discussed, and agreed to their individual contributions ahead of this time.
PLOS Mental Health will contact all authors by email at submission to ensure that they are aware of the submission.
Upload a cover letter as a separate file in the online system. The length limit is 1 page.
The cover letter should include the following information:
- Summarize the study’s contribution to the scientific literature
- Relate the study to previously published work
- Specify the type of article (for example, research article, systematic review, meta-analysis, clinical trial)
- Describe any prior interactions with PLOS regarding the submitted manuscript
IMPORTANT: Do not include requests to reduce or waive publication fees in the cover letter. This information will be entered separately in the online submission system.Read about publication fee assistance.
The title, authors, and affiliations should all be included on a title page as the first page of the manuscript file.
The Abstract comes after the title page in the manuscript file. The abstract text is also entered in a separate field in the submission system.
The Abstract should be succinct; it must not exceed 300 words. Authors should mention the techniques used without going into methodological detail and should summarize the most important results.
While the Abstract is conceptually divided into three sections (Background, Methodology/Principal Findings, and Conclusions/Significance), do not apply these distinct headings to the Abstract within the article file.
Do not include any citations. Avoid specialist abbreviations.
The introduction should put the focus of the manuscript into a broader context. As you compose the Introduction, think of readers who are not experts in this field. Include a brief review of the key literature. If there are relevant controversies or disagreements in the field, they should be mentioned so that a non-expert reader can delve into these issues further. The Introduction should conclude with a brief statement of the overall aim of the experiments and a comment about whether that aim was achieved.
The Materials and Methods should provide enough detail to reproduce the findings. Submit detailed protocols for newer or less established methods. Well-established protocols may be referenced.
Details of algorithms and protocol documents for clinical trials, observational studies, and other non-laboratory investigations may be uploaded as supporting information. These are not included in the typeset manuscript, but are downloadable and fully searchable from the HTML version of the article. Read the supporting information guidelines for formatting instructions.
We recommend and encourage you to deposit laboratory protocols in protocols.io, where protocols can be assigned their own persistent digital object identifiers (DOIs).
To include a link to a protocol in your article:
- Describe your step-by-step protocol on protocols.io
- Select Get DOI to issue your protocol a persistent digital object identifier (DOI)
- Include the DOI link in the Methods section of your manuscript using the following format provided by protocols.io: http://dx.doi.org/10.17504/protocols.io.[PROTOCOL DOI]
At this stage, your protocol is only visible to those with the link. This allows editors and reviewers to consult your protocol when evaluating the manuscript. You can make your protocols public at any time by selecting Publish on the protocols.io site. Any referenced protocol(s) will automatically be made public when your article is published.
PLOS ONE offers an option for publishing peer-reviewed Lab Protocol articles, which describe protocols hosted on protocols.io articles. Read more information on Lab Protocol articles.
These sections may all be separate, or may be combined to create a mixed Results/Discussion section (commonly labeled “Results and Discussion”) or a mixed Discussion/Conclusions section (commonly labeled “Discussion”). These sections may be further divided into subsections, each with a concise subheading, as appropriate. These sections have no word limit, but the language should be clear and concise.
Together, these sections should describe the results of the experiments, the interpretation of these results, and the conclusions that can be drawn.
Authors should explain how the results relate to the hypothesis presented as the basis of the study and provide a succinct explanation of the implications of the findings, particularly in relation to previous related studies and potential future directions for research.
PLOS Mental Health editorial decisions do not rely on perceived significance or impact, so authors should avoid overstating their conclusions. See the PLOS Mental Health Criteria for Publication for more information.
Those who contributed to the work but do not meet our authorship criteria should be listed in the Acknowledgments with a description of the contribution.
Authors are responsible for ensuring that anyone named in the Acknowledgments agrees to be named.
Do not include funding sources in the Acknowledgments or anywhere else in the manuscript file. Funding information should only be entered in the financial disclosure section of the submission system.
Any and all available works can be cited in the reference list. Acceptable sources include:
- Published or accepted manuscripts
- Manuscripts on preprint servers, providing the manuscript has a citable DOI or arXiv URL.
Do not cite the following sources in the reference list:
- Unavailable and unpublished work, including manuscripts that have been submitted but not yet accepted (e.g., “unpublished work,” “data not shown”). Instead, include those data as supplementary material or deposit the data in a publicly available database.
- Personal communications (these should be supported by a letter from the relevant authors but not included in the reference list)
- Submitted research should not rely upon retracted research. You should avoid citing retracted articles unless you need to discuss retracted work to provide historical context for your submitted research. If it is necessary to discuss retracted work, state the article’s retracted status in your article’s text and reference list.
Ensure that your reference list includes full and current bibliography details for every cited work at the time of your article’s submission (and publication, if accepted). If cited work is corrected, retracted, or marked with an expression of concern before your article is published, and if you feel it is appropriate to cite the work even in light of the post-publication notice, include in your manuscript citations and full references for both the affected article and the post-publication notice. Email the journal office if you have questions.
References are listed at the end of the manuscript and numbered in the order that they appear in the text. In the text, cite the reference number in square brackets (e.g., “We used the techniques developed by our colleagues  to analyze the data”). PLOS uses the numbered citation (citation-sequence) method and first six authors, et al.
Do not include citations in abstracts.
Make sure the parts of the manuscript are in the correct order before ordering the citations.
PLOS uses the reference style outlined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), also referred to as the “Vancouver” style. Example formats are listed below. Additional examples are in the ICMJE sample references.
Journal name abbreviations should be those found in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) databases.
Hou WR, Hou YL, Wu GF, Song Y, Su XL, Sun B, et al. cDNA, genomic sequence cloning and overexpression of ribosomal protein gene L9 (rpL9) of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Genet Mol Res. 2011;10: 1576-1588.
Devaraju P, Gulati R, Antony PT, Mithun CB, Negi VS. Susceptibility to SLE in South Indian Tamils may be influenced by genetic selection pressure on TLR2 and TLR9 genes. Mol Immunol. 2014 Nov 22. pii: S0161-5890(14)00313-7. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2014.11.005.
Note: A DOI number for the full-text article is acceptable as an alternative to or in addition to traditional volume and page numbers. When providing a DOI, adhere to the format in the example above with both the label and full DOI included at the end of the reference (doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2014.11.005). Do not provide a shortened DOI or the URL.
|Accepted, unpublished articles||Same as published articles, but substitute “Forthcoming” for page numbers or DOI.|
Huynen MMTE, Martens P, Hilderlink HBM. The health impacts of globalisation: a conceptual framework. Global Health. 2005;1: 14. Available from: http://www.globalizationandhealth.com/content/1/1/14
Bates B. Bargaining for life: A social history of tuberculosis. 1st ed. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press; 1992.
|Book chapters||Hansen B. New York City epidemics and history for the public. In: Harden VA, Risse GB, editors. AIDS and the historian. Bethesda: National Institutes of Health; 1991. pp. 21-28.|
|Deposited articles (preprints, e-prints, or arXiv)||
Krick T, Shub DA, Verstraete N, Ferreiro DU, Alonso LG, Shub M, et al. Amino acid metabolism conflicts with protein diversity. arXiv:1403.3301v1 [Preprint]. 2014 [cited 2014 March 17]. Available from: https://22.214.171.124/abs/1403.3301v1
Kording KP, Mensh B. Ten simple rules for structuring papers. BioRxiv [Preprint]. 2016 bioRxiv 088278 [posted 2016 Nov 28; revised 2016 Dec 14; revised 2016 Dec 15; cited 2017 Feb 9]: [12 p.]. Available from: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/088278v5 doi: 10.1101/088278
|Published media (print or online newspapers and magazine articles)||Fountain H. For Already Vulnerable Penguins, Study Finds Climate Change Is Another Danger. The New York Times. 2014 Jan 29 [Cited 2014 March 17]. Available from: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/science/earth/climate-change-taking-toll-on-penguins-study-finds.html|
|New media (blogs, web sites, or other written works)||Allen L. Announcing PLOS Blogs. 2010 Sep 1 [cited 17 March 2014]. In: PLOS Blogs [Internet]. San Francisco: PLOS 2006 - . [about 2 screens]. Available from: http://blogs.plos.org/plos/2010/09/announcing-plos-blogs/.|
|Masters' theses or doctoral dissertations||Wells A. Exploring the development of the independent, electronic, scholarly journal. M.Sc. Thesis, The University of Sheffield. 1999. Available from: http://cumincad.scix.net/cgi-bin/works/Show?2e09|
|Databases and repositories (Figshare, arXiv)||Roberts SB. QPX Genome Browser Feature Tracks; 2013 [cited 2013 Oct 5]. Database: figshare [Internet]. Available from: http://figshare.com/articles/QPX_Genome_Browser_Feature_Tracks/701214|
|Multimedia (videos, movies, or TV shows)||Hitchcock A, producer and director. Rear Window [Film]; 1954. Los Angeles: MGM.|
Authors can submit essential supporting files and multimedia files along with their manuscripts. All supporting information will be subject to peer review. All file types can be submitted, but files must be smaller than 20 MB in size.
Authors may use almost any description as the item name for a supporting information file as long as it contains an “S” and number. For example, “S1 Appendix” and “S2 Appendix,” “S1 Table” and “S2 Table,” and so forth.
Supporting information files are published exactly as provided, and are not copyedited.
Supporting information captions
List supporting information captions at the end of the manuscript file. Do not submit captions in a separate file.
The file number and name are required in a caption, and we highly recommend including a one-line title as well. You may also include a legend in your caption, but it is not required.
S1 Text. Title is strongly recommended. Legend is optional.
We recommend that you cite supporting information in the manuscript text, but this is not a requirement. If you cite supporting information in the text, citations do not need to be in numerical order.
Do not include figures in the main manuscript file. Each figure must be prepared and submitted as an individual file.
Cite figures in ascending numeric order at first appearance in the manuscript file.
Figure captions must be inserted in the text of the manuscript, immediately following the paragraph in which the figure is first cited (read order). Do not include captions as part of the figure files themselves or submit them in a separate document.
At a minimum, include the following in your figure captions:
- A figure label with Arabic numerals, and “Figure” abbreviated to “Fig” (e.g. Fig 1, Fig 2, Fig 3, etc). Match the label of your figure with the name of the file uploaded at submission (e.g. a figure citation of “Fig 1” must refer to a figure file named “Fig1.tif”).
- A concise, descriptive title
The caption may also include a legend as needed.
Cite tables in ascending numeric order upon first appearance in the manuscript file.
Place each table in your manuscript file directly after the paragraph in which it is first cited (read order). Do not submit your tables in separate files.
Tables require a label (e.g., “Table 1”) and brief descriptive title to be placed above the table. Place legends, footnotes, and other text below the table.
Manuscripts submitted to PLOS Mental Health are expected to report statistical methods in sufficient detail for others to replicate the analysis performed. Ensure that results are rigorously reported in accordance with community standards and that statistical methods employed are appropriate for the study design.
Consult the following resources for additional guidance:
In the methods, include a section on statistical analysis that reports a detailed description of the statistical methods. In this section:
- List the name and version of any software package used, alongside any relevant references
- Describe technical details or procedures required to reproduce the analysis
- Provide the repository identifier for any code used in the analysis (See our code-sharing policy.)
Statistical reporting guidelines:
- Identify research design and independent variables as being between- or within-subjects
- For pre-processed data:
- Describe any analysis carried out to confirm the data meets the assumptions of the analysis performed (e.g. linearity, co-linearity, normality of the distribution).
- If data were transformed include this information, with a reason for doing so and a description of the transformation performed
- Provide details of how outliers were treated and your analysis, both with the full dataset and with the outliers removed
- If relevant, describe how missing/excluded data were handled
- Define the threshold for significance (alpha)
- If appropriate, provide sample sizes, along with a description of how they were determined. If a sample size calculation was performed, specify the inputs for power, effect size and alpha. Where relevant, report the number of independent replications for each experiment.
- For analyses of variance (ANOVAs), detail any post hoc tests that were performed
- Include details of any corrections applied to account for multiple comparisons. If corrections were not applied, include a justification for not doing so
- Describe all options for statistical procedures. For example, if t-tests were performed, state whether these were one- or two-tailed. Include details of the type of t-test conducted (e.g. one sample, within-/between-subjects).
- For step-wise multiple regression analyses:
- Report the alpha level used
- Discuss whether the variables were assessed for collinearity and interaction
- Describe the variable selection process by which the final model was developed (e.g., forward-stepwise; best subset). See SAMPL guidelines.
- For Bayesian analysis explain the choice of prior trial probabilities and how they were selected. Markov chain Monte Carlo settings should be reported.
Results must be rigorously and appropriately reported, in keeping with community standards.
- Units of measurement. Clearly define measurement units in all tables and figures.
- Properties of distribution. It should be clear from the text which measures of variance (standard deviation, standard error of the mean, confidence intervals) and central tendency (mean, median) are being presented.
- Regression analyses. Include the full results of any regression analysis performed as a supplementary file. Include all estimated regression coefficients, their standard error, p-values, and confidence intervals, as well as the measures of goodness of fit.
- Reporting parameters. Test statistics (F/t/r) and associated degrees of freedom should be provided. Effect sizes and confidence intervals should be reported where appropriate. If percentages are provided, the numerator and denominator should also be given.
- P-values. Report exact p-values for all values greater than or equal to 0.001. P-values less than 0.001 may be expressed as p < 0.001, or as exponentials in studies of genetic associations.
- Displaying data in plots. Format plots so that they accurately depict the sample distribution. 3D effects in plots can bias and hinder interpretation of values, so avoid them in cases where regular plots are sufficient to display the data.
- Open data. As explained in PLOS’s Data Policy, be sure to make individual data points, underlying graphs and summary statistics available at the time of publication. Data can be deposited in a repository or included within the Supporting Information files.
All data and related metadata underlying the findings reported in a submitted manuscript should be deposited in an appropriate public repository, unless already provided as part of the submitted article.
Repositories may be either subject-specific (where these exist) and accept specific types of structured data, or generalist repositories that accept multiple data types. We recommend that authors select repositories appropriate to their field. Repositories may be subject-specific (e.g., GenBank for sequences and PDB for structures), general, or institutional, as long as DOIs or accession numbers are provided and the data are at least as open as CC BY. Authors are encouraged to select repositories that meet accepted criteria as trustworthy digital repositories, such as criteria of the Centre for Research Libraries or Data Seal of Approval. Large, international databases are more likely to persist than small, local ones.
To support data sharing and author compliance of the PLOS data policy, we have integrated our submission process with a select set of data repositories. The list is neither representative nor exhaustive of the suitable repositories available to authors. Current repository integration partners include Dryad and FlowRepository. Please contact email@example.com to make recommendations for further partnerships.
Instructions for PLOS submissions with data deposited in an integration partner repository:
- Deposit data in the integrated repository of choice.
- Once deposition is final and complete, the repository will provide you with a dataset DOI (provisional) and private URL for reviewers to gain access to the data.
- Enter the given data DOI into the full Data Availability Statement, which is requested in the Additional Information section of the PLOS submission form. Then provide the URL passcode in the Attach Files section.
If you have any questions, please email us.
All appropriate data sets, images, and information should be deposited in an appropriate public repository. See our list of recommended repositories.
Accession numbers (and version numbers, if appropriate) should be provided in the Data Availability Statement. Accession numbers or a citation to the DOI should also be provided when the data set is mentioned within the manuscript.
In some cases authors may not be able to obtain accession numbers of DOIs until the manuscript is accepted; in these cases, the authors must provide these numbers at acceptance. In all other cases, these numbers must be provided at full submission.
As much as possible, please provide accession numbers or identifiers for all entities such as genes, proteins, mutants, diseases, etc., for which there is an entry in a public database, for example:
- Entrez Gene
- Mouse Genome Database (MGD)
- Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM)
Identifiers should be provided in parentheses after the entity on first use.
You can choose to upload a “Striking Image” that we may use to represent your article online in places like the journal homepage or in search results.
The striking image must be derived from a figure or supporting information file from the submission, i.e., a cropped portion of an image or the entire image. Striking images should ideally be high resolution, eye-catching, single panel images, and should ideally avoid containing added details such as text, scale bars, and arrows.
If no striking image is uploaded, we will designate a figure from the submission as the striking image.
This information should describe sources of funding that have supported the work. It is important to gather these details prior to submission because your financial disclosure statement cannot be changed after initial submission without journal approval. If your manuscript is published, your statement will appear in the Funding section of the article.
Enter this statement in the Financial Disclosure section of the submission form. Do not include it in your manuscript file.
The statement should include:
- Specific grant numbers
- Initials of authors who received each award
- Full names of commercial companies that funded the study or authors
- Initials of authors who received salary or other funding from commercial companies
- URLs to sponsors’ websites
Also state whether any sponsors or funders (other than the named authors) played any role in:
- Study design
- Data collection and analysis
- Decision to publish
- Preparation of the manuscript
If they had no role in the research, include this sentence: “The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.”
If the study was unfunded, include this sentence as the Financial Disclosure statement: “The author(s) received no specific funding for this work."
The corresponding author is asked at submission to declare, on behalf of all authors, whether there are any financial, personal, or professional interests that could be construed to have influenced the work.
Any relevant competing interests of authors must be available to editors and reviewers during the review process and will be stated in published articles.
For manuscripts disputing previously published work, it is PLOS Mental Health policy to invite a signed review by the disputed author during the peer review process. This procedure is aimed at ensuring a thorough, transparent, and productive review process.
If the disputed author chooses to submit a review, it must be returned in a timely fashion and contain a full declaration of all competing interests. The Academic Editor will consider any such reviews in light of the competing interest.
Authors submitting manuscripts disputing previous work should explain the relationship between the manuscripts in their cover letter, and will be required to confirm that they accept the conditions of this review policy before the manuscript is considered further.
Upon submission, authors must confirm that the manuscript, or any related manuscript, is not currently under consideration or accepted elsewhere. If related work has been submitted to PLOS Mental Health or elsewhere, authors must include a copy with the submitted article. Reviewers will be asked to comment on the overlap between related submissions.
We strongly discourage the unnecessary division of related work into separate manuscripts, and we will not consider manuscripts that are divided into “parts.” Each submission to PLOS Mental Health must be written as an independent unit and should not rely on any work that has not already been accepted for publication. If related manuscripts are submitted to PLOS Mental Health, the authors may be advised to combine them into a single manuscript at the editor's discretion.
PLOS encourages authors to post preprints to accelerate the dissemination of research. Posting a manuscript on a preprint server does not impact consideration of the manuscript at any PLOS journal.
Authors posting on medRxiv can choose to concurrently submit their manuscripts to relevant PLOS journals through the direct transfer service.
We ask authors to suggest suitable editors and at least four potential reviewers when submitting their manuscript. Bear in mind any potential competing interests when making these suggestions. It is not appropriate to suggest recent collaborators or other researchers at your institution. See our policy on competing interests for more information.
Authors may choose to request that an individual is excluded from the review process and not involved in their manuscript. When making these suggestions, please provide specific reasons why each person should not review your submission in each “Reason” box. The editorial team will respect these requests so long as this does not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of the submission.
Study design, reporting, and analyses are assessed against all relevant research and methodological technique standards held by the community. Guidelines for specific study types are outlined below.
Subjects must have been properly instructed and have indicated that they consent to participate by signing the appropriate informed consent paperwork. Authors may be asked to submit a blank, sample copy of a subject consent form. If consent was verbal instead of written, or if consent could not be obtained, the authors must explain the reason in the manuscript, and the use of verbal consent or the lack of consent must have been approved by the IRB or ethics committee.
All efforts should be made to protect patient privacy and anonymity. Identifying information, including photos, should not be included in the manuscript unless the information is crucial and the individual has provided written consent by completing the Consent Form for Publication in a PLOS Journal (PDF). Download additional translations of the form here. More information about patient privacy, anonymity, and informed consent can be found in the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Privacy and Confidentiality guidelines.
Manuscripts should conform to the following reporting guidelines:
- Studies of diagnostic accuracy: STARD
- Observational studies: STROBE
- Microarray experiments: MIAME
- Other types of health-related research: Consult the EQUATOR web site for appropriate reporting guidelines
Methods sections of papers on research using human subjects or samples must include ethics statements that specify:
- The name of the approving institutional review board or equivalent committee(s). If approval was not obtained, the authors must provide a detailed statement explaining why it was not needed
- Whether informed consent was written or oral. If informed consent was oral, it must be stated in the manuscript:
- Why written consent could not be obtained
- That the Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved use of oral consent
- How oral consent was documented
For studies involving humans categorized by race/ethnicity, age, disease/disabilities, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, or other socially constructed groupings, authors should:
- Explicitly describe their methods of categorizing human populations
- Define categories in as much detail as the study protocol allows
- Justify their choices of definitions and categories, including for example whether any rules of human categorization were required by their funding agency
- Explain whether (and if so, how) they controlled for confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, nutrition, environmental exposures, or similar factors in their analysis
In addition, outmoded terms and potentially stigmatizing labels should be changed to more current, acceptable terminology. Examples: “Caucasian” should be changed to “white” or “of [Western] European descent” (as appropriate); “cancer victims” should be changed to “patients with cancer.”
For papers that include identifying, or potentially identifying, information, authors must download the Consent Form for Publication in a PLOS Journal, which the individual, parent, or guardian must sign once they have read the paper and been informed about the terms of PLOS open-access license. The signed consent form should not be submitted with the manuscript, but authors should securely file it in the individual's case notes and the methods section of the manuscript should explicitly state that consent authorization for publication is on file, using wording like:
The individual in this manuscript has given written informed consent (as outlined in PLOS consent form) to publish these case details.
Manuscripts describing observational clinical studies are subject to all policies regarding human research and community standards for reporting observational research as outlined by the STROBE statement. Furthermore, authors submitting work of this nature should pay special attention to the following requirements:
- If the submitted manuscript is very similar to previous work, authors must provide a sound scientific rationale for the submitted work and clearly reference and discuss the existing literature.
- The sampling strategy and eligibility criteria of enrolled subjects should be described in sufficient detail.
- Sample size calculations should be justified with relevant inputs defined.
- Independent and dependent variables considered for statistical analysis should be clearly defined and justified.
- The validity and reliability testing of self-developed data collection tools should be reported.
- Conclusions should be appropriate for the study design, with indications on how the study results will contribute to the base of academic knowledge.
Clinical trials are subject to all policies regarding human research. PLOS Mental Health follows the World Health Organization's (WHO) definition of a clinical trial:
All clinical trials must be registered in one of the publicly-accessible registries approved by the WHO or ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors). Authors must provide the trial registration number. Prior disclosure of results on a clinical trial registry site will not affect consideration for publication. We reserve the right to inform authors' institutions or ethics committees, and to reject the manuscript, if we become aware of unregistered trials.
PLOS Mental Health supports prospective trial registration (i.e. before participant recruitment has begun) as recommended by the ICMJE's clinical trial registration policy. Where trials were not publicly registered before participant recruitment began, authors must:
- Register all related clinical trials and confirm they have done so in the Methods section
- Explain in the Methods the reason for failing to register before participant recruitment
Clinical trials must be reported according to the relevant reporting guidelines, i.e. CONSORT for randomized controlled trials, TREND for non-randomized trials, and other specialized guidelines as appropriate. The intervention should be described according to the requirements of the TIDieR checklist and guide. Submissions must also include the study protocol as supporting information, which will be published with the manuscript if accepted.
Authors of manuscripts describing the results of clinical trials must adhere to the CONSORT reporting guidelines appropriate to their trial design, available on the CONSORT Statement web site. Before the paper can enter peer review, authors must:
- The name of the registry and the registration number must be included in the Abstract.
- Provide a copy of the trial protocol as approved by the ethics committee and a completed CONSORT checklist as supporting information (which will be published alongside the paper, if accepted). This should be named S1 CONSORT Checklist.
- Include the CONSORT flow diagram as the manuscript's “Fig 1”
Any deviation from the trial protocol must be explained in the paper. Authors must explicitly discuss informed consent in their paper, and we reserve the right to ask for a copy of the patient consent form.
The name of the registry and the registry number must be provided in the Abstract. If the trial is registered in more than one location, please provide all relevant registry names and numbers.
All research involving vertebrates or cephalopods must have approval from the authors' Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) or equivalent ethics committee(s), and must have been conducted according to applicable national and international guidelines. Approval must be received prior to beginning research.
Manuscripts reporting animal research must state in the Methods section:
- The full name of the relevant ethics committee that approved the work, and the associated permit number(s).
- Where ethical approval is not required, the manuscript should include a clear statement of this and the reason why. Provide any relevant regulations under which the study is exempt from the requirement for approval.
- Relevant details of steps taken to ameliorate animal suffering.
This study was carried out in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. The protocol was approved by the Committee on the Ethics of Animal Experiments of the University of Minnesota (Protocol Number: 27-2956). All surgery was performed under sodium pentobarbital anesthesia, and all efforts were made to minimize suffering.
Authors should always state the organism(s) studied in the Abstract. Where the study may be confused as pertaining to clinical research, authors should also state the animal model in the title.
To maximize reproducibility and potential for re-use of data, we encourage authors to follow the Animal Research: Reporting of In Vivo Experiments (ARRIVE) guidelines for all submissions describing laboratory-based animal research and to upload a completed ARRIVE Guidelines Checklist to be published as supporting information.
Manuscripts describing research involving non-human primates must report details of husbandry and animal welfare in accordance with the recommendations of the Weatherall report, The use of non-human primates in research, including:
- Information about housing, feeding, and environmental enrichment.
- Steps taken to minimize suffering, including use of anesthesia and method of sacrifice, if appropriate.
Manuscripts describing studies that use random source (e.g. Class B dealer-sourced in the USA), shelter, or stray animals will be subject to additional scrutiny and may be rejected if sufficient ethical and scientific justification for the study design is lacking.
Manuscripts reporting use of a euthanasia method(s) classified as unacceptable by the American Veterinary Medical Association or use of an anesthesia method(s) that is widely prohibited (e.g., chloral hydrate, ether, chloroform) must include at the time of initial submission, scientific justification for use in the specific study design, as well as confirmation of approval for specific use from their animal research ethics committee. These manuscripts may be subject to additional ethics considerations prior to publication.
Manuscripts reporting studies in which death of a regulated animal (vertebrate, cephalopod) is a likely outcome or a planned experimental endpoint, must comprehensively report details of study design, rationale for the approach, and methodology, including consideration of humane endpoints. This applies to research that involves, for instance, assessment of survival, toxicity, longevity, terminal disease, or high rates of incidental mortality.
A humane endpoint is a predefined experimental endpoint at which animals are euthanized when they display early markers associated with death or poor prognosis of quality of life, or specific signs of severe suffering or distress. Humane endpoints are used as an alternative to allowing such conditions to continue or progress to death following the experimental intervention (“death as an endpoint”), or only euthanizing animals at the end of an experiment. Before a study begins, researchers define the practical observations or measurements that will be used during the study to recognize a humane endpoint, based on anticipated clinical, physiological, and behavioral signs. Please see the NC3Rs guidelines for more information. Additional discussion of humane endpoints can be found in this article: Nuno H. Franco, Margarida Correia-Neves, I. Anna S. Olsson (2012) How “Humane” Is Your Endpoint? — Refining the Science-Driven Approach for Termination of Animal Studies of Chronic Infection. PLoS Pathog 8(1): e1002399 doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1002399.
Full details of humane endpoints use must be reported for a study to be reproducible and for the results to be accurately interpreted.
For studies in which death of an animal is an outcome or a planned experimental endpoint, authors should include the following information in the Methods section of the manuscript:
- The specific criteria (i.e. humane endpoints) used to determine when animals should be euthanized.
- The duration of the experiment.
- The numbers of animals used, euthanized, and found dead (if any); the cause of death for all animals.
- How frequently animal health and behavior were monitored.
- All animal welfare considerations taken, including efforts to minimize suffering and distress, use of analgesics or anaesthetics, or special housing conditions.
If humane endpoints were not used, the manuscript should report:
- A scientific justification for the study design, including the reasons why humane endpoints could not be used, and discussion of alternatives that were considered.
- Whether the institutional animal ethics committee specifically reviewed and approved the anticipated mortality in the study design.
Methods sections for submissions reporting on any type of field study must include ethics statements that specify:
- Permits and approvals obtained for the work, including the full name of the authority that approved the study; if none were required, authors should explain why
- Whether the land accessed is privately owned or protected
- Whether any protected species were sampled
- Full details of animal husbandry, experimentation, and care/welfare, where relevant
A systematic review paper, as defined by The Cochrane Collaboration, is a review of a clearly formulated question that uses explicit, systematic methods to identify, select, and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review. These reviews differ substantially from narrative-based reviews or synthesis articles. Statistical methods (meta-analysis) may or may not be used to analyze and summarize the results of the included studies.
Reports of systematic reviews and meta-analyses should include a completed PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) checklist and flow diagram to accompany the main text. Blank templates are available here:
Authors must also state in their “Methods” section whether a protocol exists for their systematic review, and if so, provide a copy of the protocol as supporting information and provide the registry number in the abstract.
If your article is a systematic review or a meta-analysis you should:
- State this in your cover letter
- Select “Research Article” as your article type when submitting
- Include the PRISMA flow diagram as Fig 1 (required where applicable)
- Include the PRISMA checklist as supporting information
Manuscripts reporting a meta-analysis of genetic association studies must report results of value to the field and should be reported according to the guidelines presented in Systematic Reviews of Genetic Association Studies by Sagoo et al.
On submission, authors will be asked to justify the rationale for the meta-analysis and how it contributes to the base of scientific knowledge in the light of previously published results. Authors will also be asked to complete a checklist (DOCX) outlining information about the justification for the study and the methodology employed. Meta-analyses that replicate published studies will be rejected if the authors do not provide adequate justification.
For all studies using personal data from internet-based and other third-party sources (e.g., social media, blogs, other internet sources, mobile phone companies), data must be collected and used according to company/website Terms and Conditions, with appropriate permissions. All data sources must be acknowledged clearly in the Materials and Methods section.
In the Ethics Statement, authors should declare any potential risks to individuals or individual privacy, or affirm that in their assessment, the study posed no such risks. In addition, the following Ethics and Data Protection requirements must be met.
For interventional studies, which impact participants’ experiences or data, the study design must have been prospectively approved by an Ethics Committee, and informed consent is required. The Ethics Committee may waive the requirement for approval and/or consent.
For observational studies in which personal experiences and accounts are not manipulated, consultation with an Ethics or Data Protection Committee is recommended. Additional requirements apply in the following circumstances:
- If information used could threaten personal privacy or damage the reputation of individuals whose data are used, an Ethics Committee should be consulted and informed consent obtained or specifically addressed.
- If authors accessed any personal identifying information, an Ethics or Data Protection Committee should oversee data anonymization. If data were anonymized and/or aggregated before access and analysis, informed consent is generally not required.
Authors reporting research using cell lines should state when and where they obtained the cells, giving the date and the name of the researcher, cell line repository, or commercial source (company) who provided the cells, as appropriate.
Authors must also include the following information for each cell line:
For de novo (new) cell lines, including those given to the researchers as a gift, authors must follow our policies for human subjects research or animal research, as appropriate. The ethics statement must include:
- Details of institutional review board or ethics committee approval; AND
- For human cells, confirmation of written informed consent from the donor, guardian, or next of kin
For established cell lines, the Methods section should include:
- A reference to the published article that first described the cell line; AND/OR
- The cell line repository or company the cell line was obtained from, the catalogue number, and whether the cell line was obtained directly from the repository/company or from another laboratory
Authors should check established cell lines using the ICLAC Database of Cross-contaminated or Misidentified Cell Lines to confirm they are not misidentified or contaminated. Cell line authentication is recommended – e.g., by karyotyping, isozyme analysis, or short tandem repeats (STR) analysis – and may be required during peer review or after publication.
Please review PLOS Mental Health’s requirements for reporting blot and gel results and providing the underlying raw images.
Manuscripts reporting experiments using antibodies should include the following information:
- The name of each antibody, a description of whether it is monoclonal or polyclonal, and the host species.
- The commercial supplier or source laboratory.
- The catalogue or clone number and, if known, the batch number.
- The antigen(s) used to raise the antibody.
- For established antibodies, a stable public identifier from the Antibody Registry.
The manuscript should also report the following experimental details:
- The final antibody concentration or dilution.
- A reference to the validation study if the antibody was previously validated. If not, provide details of how the authors validated the antibody for the applications and species used.
PLOS Mental Health will consider submissions that present new methods, software, databases, or tools as the primary focus of the manuscript if they meet the following criteria:
The tool must be of use to the community and must present a proven advantage over existing alternatives, where applicable. Recapitulation of existing methods, software, or databases is not useful and will not be considered for publication. Combining data and/or functionalities from other sources may be acceptable, but simpler instances (i.e. presenting a subset of an already existing database) may not be considered. For software, databases, and online tools, the long-term utility should also be discussed, as relevant. This discussion may include maintenance, the potential for future growth, and the stability of the hosting, as applicable.
Submissions presenting methods, software, databases, or tools must demonstrate that the new tool achieves its intended purpose. If similar options already exist, the submitted manuscript must demonstrate that the new tool is an improvement over existing options in some way. This requirement may be met by including a proof-of-principle experiment or analysis; if this is not possible, a discussion of the possible applications and some preliminary analysis may be sufficient.
If the manuscript’s primary purpose is the description of new software or a new software package, this software must be open source, deposited in an appropriate archive, and conform to the Open Source Definition. If the manuscript mainly describes a database, this database must be open-access and hosted somewhere publicly accessible, and any software used to generate a database should also be open source. If relevant, databases should be open for appropriate deposition of additional data. Dependency on commercial software such as Mathematica and MATLAB does not preclude a paper from consideration, although complete open source solutions are preferred. In these cases, authors should provide a direct link to the deposited software or the database hosting site from within the paper. If the primary focus of a manuscript is the presentation of a new tool, such as a newly developed or modified questionnaire or scale, it should be openly available under a license no more restrictive than CC BY.
Manuscripts whose primary purpose is the description of new software must provide full details of the algorithms designed. Describe any dependencies on commercial products or operating system. Include details of the supplied test data and explain how to install and run the software. A brief description of enhancements made in the major releases of the software may also be given. Authors should provide a direct link to the deposited software from within the paper.
For descriptions of databases, provide details about how the data were curated, as well as plans for long-term database maintenance, growth, and stability. Authors should provide a direct link to the database hosting site from within the paper.
Qualitative research studies use non-quantitative methods to address a defined research question that may not be accessible by quantitative methods, such as people's interpretations, experiences, and perspectives. The analysis methods are explicit, systematic, and reproducible, but the results do not involve numerical values or use statistics. Examples of qualitative data sources include, but are not limited to, interviews, text documents, audio/video recordings, and free-form answers to questionnaires and surveys.
Qualitative research studies should be reported in accordance to the Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ) checklist or Standards for reporting qualitative research (SRQR) checklist. Further reporting guidelines can be found in the Equator Network's Guidelines for reporting qualitative research.
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