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Authorship

The following policies apply to all PLOS journals, unless otherwise noted.

Everyone listed as an author should meet our criteria for authorship. Everyone who meets our criteria for authorship must be listed as an author, and the contributions of all authors must be reported. 

We expect that all authors will take public responsibility for the content of the manuscript submitted to PLOS. 

All authors should be listed in the Editorial Manager submission form before peer review. If a submission’s authorship changes during peer review or revisions, the author fields in the Editorial Manager submission form should be updated at the next available opportunity (e.g. when submitting the revision), and authors must fulfill the requirements described here.

All authors will be contacted by email to ensure that they are aware of and approve the submission of the manuscript, its content, and its authorship. Some PLOS journals require that all co-authors confirm their assent to publication by email. Please contact the journal office (plosmedicine@plos.org) or the PLOS Publication Ethics team (pub-ethics@plos.org) if you have concerns about a submission’s authorship. 

Authorship issues identified after publication may result in a correction, Expression of Concern, or retraction.

 Authorship Requirements

All authors are expected to have made substantial contributions to the submitted work and to be accountable for the work both before and after publication. 

For PLOS Medicine articles, authors must also meet all four criteria listed in the “Defining the Role of Authors and Contributors” recommendations by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE):

 

  • Substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data, 

and

  • Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content, 

and

  • Final approval of the version to be published, 

and

  • Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Group Authorship

For all PLOS journals, authors should follow the ICMJE guidelines on group authorship. Where authorship criteria are referenced in the ICMJE guidelines, authors should apply the criteria stated above for the applicable PLOS journal.

The ICMJE guidelines on group authorship state:

When a large multi-author group has conducted the work, the group ideally should decide who will be an author before the work is started and confirm who is an author before submitting the manuscript for publication. All members of the group named as authors should meet [authorship criteria], and they should be able to take public responsibility for the work and should have full confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the work of other group authors. They will also be expected as individuals to complete disclosure forms.

Some large multi-author groups designate authorship by a group name, with or without the names of individuals. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should specify the group name if one exists, and clearly identify the group members who can take credit and responsibility for the work as authors.

An individual contributor must be designated as corresponding author even if the submission lists a consortium or group author name in the byline. 

For PLOS articles published since October 2016, only the contributors (individuals and/or consortia) who are listed in the author byline are automatically indexed in PubMed. If you have questions about this, please email the journal office.

See the Submission Guidelines for more information.

Author Contributions

The contributions of all authors must be described. PLOS has adopted the CRediT Taxonomy to describe each author’s individual contributions to the work. The submitting author is responsible for providing the contributions of all authors at submission. We expect that all authors will have reviewed, discussed, and agreed to their individual contributions ahead of this time. Contributions will be published with the final article, and they should accurately reflect contributions to the work. 

Contributor Role Role Definition
Conceptualization

Ideas; formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims.

Data Curation Management activities to annotate (produce metadata), scrub data and maintain research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself) for initial use and later reuse.
Formal Analysis Application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other formal techniques to analyze or synthesize study data.
Funding Acquisition Acquisition of the financial support for the project leading to this publication.
Investigation Conducting a research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments, or data/evidence collection.

Methodology

Development or design of methodology; creation of models
Project Administration Management and coordination responsibility for the research activity planning and execution.
Resources Provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or other analysis tools.
Software Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components.
Supervision Oversight and leadership responsibility for the research activity planning and execution, including mentorship external to the core team.
Validation Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs.
Visualization Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically visualization/data presentation.
Writing – Original Draft Preparation Creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft (including substantive translation).
Writing – Review & Editing Preparation, creation and/or presentation of the published work by those from the original research group, specifically critical review, commentary or revision – including pre- or post-publication stages.

Acknowledgments

Contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be mentioned in the Acknowledgments. It is expected that those being acknowledged have given their permission to be named.

Corresponding Author Responsibilities

The corresponding author takes responsibility for and speaks on behalf of all authors.  

Pre-publication:

  • Ensure that the manuscript is in full adherence with all PLOS editorial and publishing policies
  • Ensure that all authors have access to the final version of the manuscript that is submitted to the journal, and agree to the author list and author contributions. 
  • Ensure that all authors have seen the final draft of the manuscript before it is published.
  • Provide to the journal written confirmation that all authors consent to any requested changes in the manuscript’s authorship.  

Post-publication:

  • Continue to be the point of contact for queries about the published paper.
  • Inform all coauthors of any matters arising and ensure such matters are dealt with promptly. 

Professional Medical Writers

The involvement of any professional medical writer in the publication process must be declared. The European Medical Writers' Association Guidelines contain additional information about the role of medical writers.

Authorship Changes

PLOS journals follow the COPE guidelines for changes in authorship.

Changing the author list after submission requires agreement from all authors. This includes additions, deletions, and changes in ordering. Requests must come from the corresponding author along with an explanation of how any added authors contributed to the work and why author(s) are being added/removed after the initial submission. The corresponding author must also provide to PLOS documentation verifying that all authors, including any being added, deleted, or reordered, have given written consent to the change(s). Authorship change requests are subject to PLOS' approval; we may require validation of authorship contributions from an institutional official.

PLOS does not generally consider requests to add or remove authors between editorial acceptance and publication of the article. If there are special circumstances that apply to your article such that a post-accept authorship change is needed, please contact the journal office. These requests require approval by the journal’s editorial team.

In the case of an authorship dispute, the journal will not arbitrate. If the authors are unable to resolve the dispute themselves, we will defer the issue to the authors’ institution(s) in accordance with COPE guidelines. The journal will abide by institutional recommendations following authorship investigations, with rare exception.

If we encounter delays resolving pre-publication authorship issues - e.g., if pre-publication authorship disputes are not resolved in a timely fashion, or if we require but have difficulty obtaining an institution’s input - PLOS journals may withdraw or reject the submission. It is the authors’ responsibility in such cases to follow-up with one another or with the relevant institutional official(s) in order to resolve any pending issues. PLOS may consider a resubmission if/when the issue is resolved.

Authorship changes after publication are addressed via Corrections, except in rare circumstances. 

We will update author bylines via silent republication (i.e., without an accompanying Correction notice) to reflect name changes of transgender or non-binary authors. Other name change requests may be granted at the journal’s discretion.

Author Identification

PLOS endorses ORCID and requires that all corresponding authors provide an ORCID iD when submitting a manuscript. We encourage coauthors to register and use their ORCID as well. 

We publish the corresponding author's ORCID iD as well as any ORCIDs provided by coauthors if the manuscript is accepted. We participate in the auto-update feature implemented by Crossref such that when a paper is published, the authors’ ORCIDs are deposited and subsequently used to update each author’s ORCID record. Read more about ORCID

  Watch this short video for instructions on how to register for an ORCID iD and link it to your Editorial Manager profile.

Editor and Reviewer Requirements

Editors should be aware of the author list and author affiliations when they invite reviewers to review a manuscript in order to reduce the likelihood of inviting individuals with potentially competing interests that would disqualify them from participating in the peer review process.

Editors and reviewers should contact the journal with any concerns about the author list or if they identify any potentially competing interests that should be declared or that mean they should recuse themselves from the process.