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PLOS ONE Publication Criteria

  1. The study presents the results of primary scientific research.
  2. Results reported have not been published elsewhere.
  3. Experiments, statistics, and other analyses are performed to a high technical standard and are described in sufficient detail.
  4. Conclusions are presented in an appropriate fashion and are supported by the data.
  5. The article is presented in an intelligible fashion and is written in standard English.
  6. The research meets all applicable standards for the ethics of experimentation and research integrity.
  7. The article adheres to appropriate reporting guidelines and community standards for data availability.

1. The study presents the results of primary scientific research.

PLOS ONE is designed to communicate primary scientific research. We welcome submissions in any discipline that will contribute to the base of scientific knowledge.

We will not consider:

  • Reviews
  • Case studies, either contemporary or historical
  • Study protocols
  • Hypothesis or proposal papers
  • Letters, commentaries, or essays
  • Opinion pieces
  • Policy papers
  • Any other type of secondary literature
  • Monographs

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:

  • Systematic reviews. We consider publishing systematic reviews only if the methods ensure the comprehensive and unbiased sampling of existing literature. See the PLOS ONE Manuscript 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 PLOS ONE Editorial Policies and Manuscript 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 PLOS ONE Manuscript Guidelines.
  • Studies reporting negative results.

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2. Results reported have not been published elsewhere.

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. In addition, we will not consider submissions that are currently under consideration for publication elsewhere.

All figures included in manuscripts should be original, and should not have been published in any previous publications.

We will consider manuscripts that have been deposited in preprint servers such as arXiv or published in a thesis. We will also consider work that has been presented at conferences.

Replication Studies

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.

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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.

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4. Conclusions are presented in an appropriate fashion and are supported by the data.

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.

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5. The article is presented in an intelligible fashion and is written in standard English.

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."

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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:

If approval was not obtained, authors must explain why it was not required.

Please contact PLOS ONE staff at plosone [at] plos.org if you have questions regarding your work and compliance with accepted ethical standards.

Publication Ethics

PLOS ONE is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). We abide by its Code of Conduct and aim 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 plosone [at] plos.org.

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7. The article adheres to appropriate reporting guidelines and community standards for data availability.

Reporting Guidelines

Results must be rigorously reported, as appropriate based on community standards. More information about discipline-specific reporting guidelines can be found in the PLOS ONE Manuscript Guidelines.

Data Availability

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 the PLOS ONE Editorial Policies.

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