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What We Publish

Research Articles

Research Articles present the results of original research that address a clearly defined research question and contribute to the body of academic knowledge.

PLOS Water considers Research Articles across a wide range of research related to water sanitation and hygiene (WASH), water resources and water-related ecosystem management, including water treatment, contamination, purification, quality, consumption, recycling, scarcity and supply, conservation, infrastructure, equity, access, applied governance and policy, and environmental impacts, as well as ecosystem approaches, socio-behavioral and economic studies relevant to these areas.

In keeping with our mission to publish all methodologically and ethically rigorous research, we will consider Research Articles reporting negative and null results.

Research Articles typically consist of the following headings:

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions

Submitted Research Articles are evaluated against the PLOS Water criteria for publication and should also adhere to the author submission guidelines.

Articles reporting new methods

PLOS Water considers Research Article submissions which report new methods, software, databases and tools as the primary focus of the article. These should also adhere to the utility, availability and validation criteria in the guidelines for specific study types.

Commissioned Article Types

PLOS Water does not consider unsolicited submissions of the article types below - these articles must be commissioned or invited by the PLOS Water editors, or, in the case of Collection Reviews and Collection Overviews, by Guest Editors of Collection partners.

Formal Comments

Formal Comments are invited by PLOS Water editors to promote scientific discourse about PLOS Water articles. They provide additional perspectives or context on a publication, especially in areas of policy, societal relevance, or ongoing scientific debate.

PLOS Water may invite a Formal Comment as:

  • A response to scientific criticism or re-analysis by authors whose work is disputed in a PLOS Water publication.
  • An article that offers an expert, broad and balanced perspective on a PLOS Water publication, or adds context on the potential editorial, societal or policy implications of the findings.

Formal Comments should be concise, coherent, well-argued and of timely relevance to the field. Formal Comments undergo peer review, and the journal may also invite the authors of the article under discussion to provide a signed review or to submit a response to the Formal Comment. PLOS Water editors do not consider unsolicited Formal Comments.

Formal Comments are not meant to address concerns around publication ethics. Direct ethics concerns about PLOS Water to the PLOS Publication Ethics team​ and cc the journal.


These peer-reviewed articles are compelling narrative reviews that discuss current developments in a particular field within the journal’s scope and draw meaningful conclusions adding to knowledge in the field. They should be balanced, coherent, and representative of the literature on the topic covered. These articles should be around 4,000 words with a recommended 5 figures and a suggested limit of 100 references.

Reviews should include:

  • An introduction summarizing the topic’s background and purpose of the review.
  • A conclusion succinctly outlining key points.
  • Where possible, discussion of implications to the field and recommendations based on evidence presented.


Opinion articles provide experts with a forum to comment on topical or controversial issues of broad interest. They address issues at the interface between science and policy or science and society, present a policy position aimed at influencing policy decisions, and examine and make recommendations on scientific and publishing practices. These are meant to be short, opinionated pieces. These articles should be no more than 1000 words with a figure encouraged and a maximum of 15 references. Opinion articles are not routinely peer reviewed, but are evaluated in detail by the editors, who may decide to seek additional advice from members of the editorial board or external reviewers.


Editorials are written in-house by members of the editorial staff or by members of the Editorial Board.

Post-Publication Notices

PLOS publishes Corrections, Expressions of Concern, and Retraction notices, as needed, to address issues that arise after a PLOS article has been published.