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Editorial and Peer Review Process

PLOS Medicine is a peer reviewed scientific journal with a rigorous editorial screening and assessment process made up of several stages.

PLOS Medicine considers research articles and commentary relevant to clinicians, policymakers, and researchers across a range of settings that address the major biological, environmental, social, and political determinants of health. The editors make submission decisions based upon their potential to directly and substantially inform clinical practice or health policy, and their relevance to our international audience.

Checking the status of your manuscript
The corresponding author can check the status of a submitted manuscript at anytime in our submission system.

Initial Submission

Each initial submission is assigned to a PLOS Medicine staff editor for an assessment of scope and quality.

The professional editor and Academic Editor will promptly assess the manuscript and will decide if it is likely to meet the requirement of providing a major advance in a particular field and describing a sufficient body of work to support that claim; if so, you’ll be invited to submit a Full Submission for Peer Review.

Peer Review

All articles, with the exception of Editorials and some Perspectives, are externally peer reviewed before a final decision is made about acceptance for publication. Expert reviewers are asked to assess the technical and scientific merits of the work. Where relevant, work presented in a manuscript undergoes a rigorous review of the statistical methods used.

PLOS Medicine uses single blind peer review. Reviewers remain anonymous unless they choose to identify themselves by signing their name to their review in our submission system.

Editorial Decisions

In consultation together, the professional and Academic editors consider reviewer feedback and their own evaluations of the manuscript in order to reach a decision. The following decision types are available:

  • Reject
  • Major revision
  • Minor revision
  • Accept

If after peer review a manuscript is considered potentially appropriate for PLOS Medicine, a major revision is generally requested. A minor revision is generally requested as a final step before acceptance.

Manuscripts that are rejected generally do not fit the criteria outlined above in terms of originality, importance to the field, cross-disciplinary interest, or sound methodology.

Decisions are communicated to the corresponding author in a formal letter, along with reviewer feedback and any other requirements from the journal office.

Revisions

If the editors feel that your manuscript has the potential to be published, but requires changes, you’ll be invited to revise it.

Revised manuscripts will be assessed by a professional editor and the same Academic Editor. Manuscripts that undergo major revision may require re-review or additional statistical review. There is no guarantee of acceptance after major revision.

Read more about revising your manuscripts

Accepted Manuscripts

Once the final requirements are fulfilled, the journal office will send a formal accept decision, and your manuscript will move on to production.

Read more about accepted manuscripts.

Peer Review History

PLOS now offers accepted authors the opportunity to publish the peer review history of their manuscript alongside the final article. The peer review history package includes the complete editorial decision letter for each revision, with reviews, and your responses to reviewer comments, including attachments. If the peer reviewers have chosen to sign their reviews, their names will also appear.

If your submission is accepted for publication, you’ll be invited to opt-in to publish the peer review history of your manuscript using a form in our submission system.

Sharing peer review history enriches the scientific record, increases transparency and accountability, and helps to reinforce the validity of your research by displaying the thoroughness of the peer review process it has undergone.

The journal reserves the right not to publish peer review history in special cases, for example, due to an ethical consideration, such as the inclusion of information about a vulnerable population.

Transferring to Other Journals

Authors can request that original research 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

There are two major reasons why we consider articles to not be appropriate for publication in PLOS Medicine:

  • The article is not broadly felt to be an appropriate topic for the journal, e.g., not a sufficient advance or too specialized. We are often able to identify such papers at the initial submission stage. We normally aim to make such decisions quickly and without external advice so that authors can seek publication elsewhere. However, the lack of an adequate level of advance sometimes only becomes clear after we have obtained in-depth reviews. We may suggest other PLOS journals for these articles.
  • The topic of the article is potentially of interest but, through either editorial or peer review, substantial methodological concerns are identified such that, even after revision, the article is unlikely to be appropriate for PLOS Medicine.

If you wish to appeal a decision, you should contact the editor who handled the manuscript, explaining in detail your reasons for the appeal. Please note that editors are not able to prioritize appeals above the initial evaluation of newly submitted manuscripts, but aim to respond within two weeks of receipt to let you know whether or not we are able to proceed with a formal appeal.

All appeals will be discussed with at least one other staff editor or academic editor. We may or may not seek external advice on the appeal.

We do not consider second appeals.

Contact

If you have questions at any stage in the process, please email us.

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