Criteria for Publication
PLOS ONE is designed to communicate original research and research methods. We welcome submissions in the natural sciences, medical research, engineering, as well as the related social sciences and humanities that will contribute to the base of academic knowledge.
We will not consider:
- Clinical case reports
- Hypothesis or proposal papers
- Letters, commentaries, or essays
- Opinion pieces
- Policy papers
- Clinical practice guidelines
- Any other type of secondary literature
We will occasionally commission Collection Reviews or Overviews, but these articles are associated with specific, pre-planned Collections and will not be considered unless solicited.
We will consider the following article types:
|Registered Reports||We consider preregistered research including both Registered Report Protocols defining study rationale and design, and the Registered Report research articles reporting on the outcomes upon study completion.|
|Systematic reviews||We consider systematic reviews where the methods ensure the comprehensive and unbiased sampling of existing literature. See the submission guidelines for more information about requirements for submitting a systematic review.|
|Submissions describing methods, software, databases, or other tools||We consider submissions describing methods, software, databases, or other tools if they follow the appropriate reporting guidelines. See the submission guidelines for more information.|
|Qualitative research||We consider publishing qualitative research only if it adheres to appropriate study design and reporting guidelines, as described in the submission guidelines.|
|Studies reporting negative results||
In keeping with our mission to publish all valid research, we consider negative and null results.
|Protocols||We consider two types of protocols articles, Lab Protocols and Study Protocols, provided they comply with our submission guidelines.|
Previously Published Studies
PLOS ONE does not accept for publication studies that have already been published, in whole or in part, elsewhere in the peer-reviewed literature. All figures included in manuscripts should be original, and should not have been published in any previous publications.
In addition, we will not consider submissions that are currently under consideration for publication elsewhere.
PLOS supports authors who wish to share their work early through deposition of manuscripts in preprint servers. This does not impact consideration of the manuscript at any PLOS journal. We will consider manuscripts that have been deposited in preprint servers such as bioRxiv or arXiv, published as a thesis, or presented at conferences.
If a submitted study replicates or 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. Submissions that replicate or are derivative of existing work will likely be rejected if authors do not provide adequate justification.
3. Experiments, statistics, and other analyses are performed to a high technical standard and are described in sufficient detail.
Experiments must have been conducted rigorously, with appropriate controls and replication. Sample sizes must be large enough to produce robust results, where applicable. Methods and reagents must be described in sufficient detail for another researcher to reproduce the experiments described.
The data presented in the manuscript must support the conclusions drawn. Submissions will be rejected if the interpretation of results is unjustified or inappropriate, so authors should avoid overstating their conclusions. Authors may discuss possible implications for their results as long as these are clearly identified as hypotheses instead of conclusions.
PLOS ONE does not copyedit accepted manuscripts, so the language in submitted articles must be clear, correct, and unambiguous. We may reject papers that do not meet these standards.
If the language of a paper is difficult to understand or includes many errors, we may recommend that authors seek independent editorial help before submitting a revision. These services can be found on the web using search terms like “scientific editing service” or “manuscript editing service.”
6. The research meets all applicable standards for the ethics of experimentation and research integrity.
Ethics of Experimentation
Research published in PLOS ONE must have been conducted to the highest ethical standards. We reserve the right to reject any submission that does not meet these standards, which in some cases are more stringent than local ethical standards.
Approval from the relevant body is required for studies involving:
- Humans (live or tissue), including studies that are observational, survey-based, or include any personal data (see Editorial Policies and Submission Guidelines)
- Animals (live or tissue), including observational studies (see Editorial Policies and Submission Guidelines)
- Cell lines that are not commercially available (see Submission Guidelines)
- Field sampling (see Submission Guidelines)
- Potential biosafety implications (see Editorial Policies)
If approval was not obtained, authors must explain why it was not required.
Please contact PLOS ONE staff at email@example.com if you have questions regarding your work and compliance with accepted ethical standards.
PLOS is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). PLOS ONE abides by its Code of Conduct and aims to adhere to its Best Practice Guidelines. Authors are expected to comply with best practices in publication ethics, specifically regarding authorship, dual publication, plagiarism, figure manipulation, and competing interests.
For more details about PLOS ONE's expectations for publication ethics, see the Editorial Policies.
Any concerns about the above should be addressed to the editorial office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. The article adheres to appropriate reporting guidelines and community standards for data availability.
Results must be rigorously reported, as appropriate based on community standards. More information about discipline-specific reporting guidelines can be found in the submission guidelines.
Authors must follow standards and practice for data deposition in publicly available resources including those created for gene sequences, microarray expression, structural studies, and similar kinds of data. Failure to comply with community standards may result in rejection.
For more information about PLOS ONE requirements for data sharing and deposition in public databases, see our data availability policy.