Separate labs may achieve similar results in parallel. When one author group publishes their work first, the second complementary study is considered “scooped” and it can become difficult to publish. In acknowledgment of the reality of synchronous discovery and the role that complementary research can play in validating and substantiating findings, PLOS offers a six month protection for complementary or “scooped” studies.
The PLOS scooping policy protects a primary research study from being considered scooped by closely related, parallel studies published in other journals, or from preprints that are posted, after the date of submission to the PLOS journal. Additionally, the PLOS policy will apply retroactively for up to six months prior to the date of submission to a PLOS journal (or longer, at the discretion of the journal, if the authors posted a preprint of the same version of their manuscript during that timeframe).
Results presented in any published or posted contemporaneous articles or preprints by other groups will not impact the editorial assessment or peer review process at PLOS with respect to novelty/strength of advance.
Authors are expected to cite and discuss any papers that have scooped theirs in their submission and place the results in context as part of the review process. The independent nature of the research can of course be stressed. If relevant, authors can also cite and discuss relevant preprints while acknowledging timeframe and the fact that the preprint may not yet have undergone peer review.