PLOS Medicine Guidelines for Authors

Detailed below are guidelines for authors about the journal, open access, the editorial process, and production process. We also provide checklists for submitting manuscripts for the first time, submitting revised manuscripts, and detailed figure guidelines.


  1. About PLOS Medicine
  2. Open Access
  3. Publication Fees
  4. Criteria for Publication
  5. Presubmission Inquiries
  6. Overview of Editorial Process
  7. Are You Ready To Submit Your Manuscript?
  8. Cover Letter
  9. Supporting Documentation and Materials Required at Submission
  10. Preparation of Research Manuscripts
  11. Preparation of Magazine Manuscripts
  12. Outline of the Production Process
  13. Embargoes and the Media
  14. Reader Responses and Notes, Comments and Ratings

1. About PLOS Medicine

PLOS Medicine is the leading open-access medical journal, providing an influential venue for outstanding research and commentary on the major challenges to human health worldwide. We publish articles 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 decisions on submissions based upon their potential to directly and substantially inform clinical practice or health policy, and their relevance to our international audience. Articles given highest priority for publication are those that address conditions or risk factors that cause the greatest losses in years of healthy life and quality of life worldwide. We aim to publish work that adheres to the highest standards of methodology, ethics, and reporting.

PLOS Medicine also seeks to publish articles in the area of translational medicine that provide substantial, novel mechanistic insights into disease processes, with potential implications for clinical care. Additionally PLOS Medicine considers articles on topics relating to the integrity and ethics of the research enterprise; the practice of medicine; and the application of research to practice to fall within its scope.

Research submitted to PLOS Medicine should be timely and searches that form the basis of systematic reviews and meta-analyses should be up to date. If original research is older than three years the author should address the applicability of the data to the present, why the data are still relevant, and why the data were not published earlier. For further information, see

2. Open Access

PLOS applies the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to all works we publish. Under the CC BY license, authors retain ownership of the copyright for their article, but authors allow anyone to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute, and/or copy articles in PLOS journals, so long as the original authors and source are cited. No permission is required from the authors or the publishers.

3. Publication Fees

To provide Open Access, PLOS uses a business model to offset expenses—including those of peer review management, journal production and online hosting and archiving—by charging a publication fee to the authors, institutions or funders for each article published.

Publication fees vary by journal and are payable for articles upon acceptance.

PLOS believes that lack of funds should not be a barrier to Open Access publication. Since its inception, PLOS has provided individual fee support and institutional fee support programs. The current offering includes:

PLOS Global Participation Initiative (Low- and Middle-Income Country Assistance)

Authors' research which is funded primarily (50% or more of the work contained within the article) by an institution or organization from eligible low- and middle-income countries will receive partial (group 2 countries) or full (group 1 countries) fee funding paid by the PLOS Global Participation Initiative (GPI). Group 2 PLOS GPI country authors who need to request additional support should apply for PLOS Publication Fee Assistance instead of the PLOS GPI.

PLOS Publication Fee Assistance (PFA)

Publication Fee Assistance is intended for authors who demonstrate financial need. Information about an applicant's application status for fee assistance will not be disclosed to journal editors or reviewers. PLOS publication decisions will continue to be based solely on editorial criteria.

PLOS Institutional Fee Support Programs

PLOS currently offers two institutional programs to support Open Access scientific publishing. Participating institutions have arrangements with PLOS to administer payment for partial or full publication fees for their institutions' authors. To be eligible, authors must be a corresponding author affiliated with the institution or agency in the Institutional Account Program (fully paid or restricted) or Institutional Membership Program (10% publication fee discount). Authors who are eligible for Institutional Membership Program discounts and need to request additional support should apply for PLOS PFA instead of the Institutional Membership Program.

Additional External Funds

Authors may also be eligible for direct funding from their institution or funder, which may be different from the PLOS Institutional programs. See additional Open Access funds for examples. To confirm amounts and details of funding and eligibility, contact the organization as indicated.

4. Criteria for Publication

Within the scope of the journal as noted above, manuscripts should represent a substantial advance in medical science or medical practice in terms of:

  • Originality and novelty
  • Importance to researchers or practitioners in the field
  • Interest for researchers or practitioners outside the field
  • Rigorous methodology with conclusions justified by the evidence presented
  • Adherence to the highest ethical standards

5. Presubmission Inquiries

It is essential that authors submit a presubmission inquiry before submitting a full paper. Presubmission inquiries allow authors to quickly find out whether their paper is likely to be broadly suitable for PLOS Medicine. To submit a presubmission inquiry please log on or register at our online submission site. Click the link "Submit New Manuscript" and select "Presubmission Inquiry". You will need to enter an abstract (the Research Article study abstract or a brief description of the work for Magazine content) and a cover letter with references explaining why you think the work is appropriate for PLOS Medicine.

The title should be a clear description of the paper's content. For randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews/meta-analyses, and often other types of studies, the subtitle should include the study design.

For Research Article presubmissions, the abstract should be divided into sections: Background, Methods and Findings, Conclusions. It should contain all of the following elements, except for items in square brackets, which are only needed for some study types. For other article types please just submit a short summary paragraph or bullet points.


This section should describe clearly the rationale for the study. The final sentence should state the specific study hypothesis and/or study objectives.

Methods and Findings

    Describe the study participants or what was studied (e.g., patient population, cell lines; be as specific as possible, including numbers studied).

    Describe the study design, intervention if applicable, main methods used, primary outcome measure(s), and length of follow up if applicable.

    Describe what was primarily being assessed e.g. primary outcome measure and, if appropriate, over what period.

    [If appropriate, include how many participants were assessed out of those enrolled. For survey research research, include the response rate.]

    [If critical to the understanding of the paper, describe how results were analyzed, i.e., which specific statistical tests were used.]

    For the main outcomes provide a numerical result if appropriate (it nearly always is) and a measure of its precision (e.g. 95% confidence interval).

    Describe any adverse events.

    Describe the main limitations of the study.


Provide a general interpretation of the results with any implications supported by the research and important recommendations for future research.

[For a clinical trial provide any trial identification numbers and names (e.g., trial registration number, protocol number or acronym).]

Our median time from Presubmission inquiry to decision is 3 calendar days. However, if you do not receive a response in 1 week please contact +44 1223 442814 (UK office) or +1 415 568 4503 (US office) or e-mail plosmedicine [at]

6. Overview of Editorial Process

Our aim is to provide all authors with an efficient, courteous, and constructive editorial process. To achieve its required level of quality, PLOS Medicine is highly selective in the manuscripts that it publishes and rejection rates are high. To ensure the fairest and most objective decision-making, the editorial process is run as a partnership between the PLOS Medicine professional editors and the editorial board, which comprises leaders in all fields of medicine.

Full-length submitted manuscripts will be assigned to one of the PLOS Medicine professional editors. If the paper is deemed to be within the scope of the journal with regard to content and of adequate quality standard, an academic editor with expertise in the relevant area, usually one of our editorial board, is then also assigned to the paper. The editor and editorial board member 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, it will be sent for external 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 encourages open (non-anonymous) peer-review. As a default, authors receive the reviewers' names along with the comments. If reviewers do not wish to have their name revealed, they can request that their review be anonymous and we honor that request.

Upon submission of a manuscript, authors are asked if they wish to exclude any specific academic editors or reviewers from the peer review of their article. The editorial team will respect these requests so long as this does not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of the article. See the relevant guidelines for reviewers and more general information on PLOS’ policy regarding competing interests.

Once all reviews have been received and considered by the professional and academic editors, a decision letter to the author is drafted.

Editorial Decisions

  • Several types of decisions are possible. 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.

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.

Upon acceptance, the manuscript enters our production system. Articles are generally published within 5-6 weeks of the date of final acceptance as part of the weekly issue.

Appeals of Decisions

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

  1. 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 presubmission inquiry stage, although sometimes we need to invite the full paper in before making that judgment. 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.
  2. 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 presubmission inquiry or full manuscript, explaining in detail your reasons for the appeal.

All appeals will be discussed with at least one other editor. If those editors do not agree the appeal will be discussed at a full editorial meeting. We may or may not then seek external advice on the appeal.

We do not consider second appeals.

7. Are You Ready To Submit Your Manuscript?

We have provided an author checklist to help you prepare your materials for submission and to make the online submission process as straightforward as possible. Please review the list carefully before submitting your article.

If you are submitting a revised manuscript you will have been given substantial guidance by the editors. We have provided a checklist for revised manuscripts.

Text files can be submitted for review in the following formats: DOC, DOCX, RTF or PDF. Any articles that have been prepared in LaTeX will be accepted for review, but only in PDF format. After acceptance, only text files (RTF, DOC, DOCX, OR LaTeX) of the revised manuscript can be accepted for use in the pre-production and copyediting processes. Equations should not be un-editable graphic objects.

Graphics files can be submitted as EPS or TIFF files. If possible, please label all figures using Times Roman or another serif font. Please read the Guidelines for Figure Preparation before submitting figures.

Supporting Information, which are files that contain data or information ancillary to the main text of the article, should follow the Supporting Information guidelines.

8. Cover Letter

Please include a cover letter explaining why the manuscript is suitable for publication in PLOS Medicine. Address the following questions: Why will your paper inspire researchers or clinicians, and how will it improve patient care or public health, or drive the understanding of disease forward?

9. Supporting Documentation and Materials Required at Submission

PLOS Medicine is committed to the highest ethical standards in medical research. Accordingly, we ask authors to provide specific information regarding ethical treatment of research participants, patient consent, patient privacy, protocols, authorship, and competing interests. We also ask that reports of certain specific types of studies adhere to generally accepted standards. Our requirements are based on the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, issued by the International Committee for Medical Journal Editors, and are provided below. See the Supporting Information Guidelines for more details about our requirements for supporting information and multimedia files.

Human and Animal Research

All research involving humans and animals must have been approved by the authors' institutional review board or equivalent committee(s), and that board must be named by the authors in the manuscript. For research involving human participants, informed consent must have been obtained or the reason for lack of consent explained, and all clinical investigations must have been conducted according to the principles expressed in the "Declaration of Helsinki". The Methods section of the paper must state whether informed consent was written or oral. If informed consent was oral, it must be stated in the paper: (a) why written consent could not be obtained, (b) that the IRB approved the use of oral consent, and (c) how oral consent was documented.

Authors may be required to submit, on request, a statement from the research ethics committee or institutional review board indicating approval of the research. We also encourage authors to submit a sample of a patient consent form, and may require submission in particular instances.

For studies involving humans categorized by race/ethnicity, age, disease/disabilities, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, or other socially constructed groupings, authors should, as much as possible,

  • make explicit their methods of categorizing human populations;
  • define categories in as much detail as the study protocol allows;
  • justify their choices of definitions and categories, including for example whether any rules of human categorization were required by their funding agency;
  • explain whether (and if so, how) they controlled for confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, nutrition, environmental exposures, etc.

In addition, outmoded terms and potentially stigmatizing labels should be changed to more current, acceptable terminology. For example, “white” should be used rather than “Caucasian” and “patients with cancer” should be used rather than “cancer patients” or “cancer victims”.

PLOS Medicine publishes few animal studies but will consider animal studies of two kinds:

  1. Translational studies that establish a novel explanatory mechanism for a significant clinical problem, to an extent that will directly inform specific clinical approaches. Such papers must include or refer to human data that is sufficiently compelling to establish clinical relevance of the animal model.
  2. Models relevant to the treatment or prevention of major health problems, in which the interventions cannot be tested in humans for ethical reasons, but will provide compelling justification for specific changes in the design of subsequent clinical trials.

All animal work must have been conducted according to relevant national and international guidelines. In addition, PLOS Medicine requires that animal research follows the ARRIVE guidelines. In accordance with the recommendations of the Weatherall report, "The use of non-human primates in research", we specifically require authors to include details of animal welfare and steps taken to ameliorate suffering in all work involving non-human primates. The institution that approved the study must be named, and it must be stated in the paper that the study was conducted adhering to the institution's guidelines for animal husbandry.

Patient Privacy and Informed Consent for Publication

Our human participant policy conforms to the Uniform Requirements of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors:

"Patients have a right to privacy that should not be infringed without informed consent. Identifying information should not be published in written descriptions, photographs, and pedigrees unless the information is essential for scientific purposes and the patient (or parent or guardian) gives written informed consent for publication. Informed consent for this purpose requires that the patient be shown the manuscript to be published.

Complete anonymity is difficult to achieve, and informed consent for publication should be obtained if there is any doubt. If data are changed to protect anonymity, authors should provide assurance that alterations of the data do not distort scientific meaning.

When informed consent has been obtained it should be indicated in the published article."

For papers that include identifying information, or potentially identifying information, authors must download the Consent Form for Publication in a PLOS Journal from our Web site, which the patient, parent or guardian must sign once they have read the paper and been informed about the terms of PLOS open-access license. (This license means that the images and text we publish online become available for any lawful purpose). Once authors have obtained the signed consent form, it should be filed securely in the patient's case notes and the article submitted to the PLOS Journal should include this statement indicating that specific consent for publication was obtained: "The patients in this manuscript have given written informed consent (as outlined in the PLOS consent form) to publication of their case details."

Download "Consent Form for Publication":

Materials Required for the Submission of Specific Study Types

Authors must check the EQUATOR Network site for any reporting guidelines that apply to the particular study design and ensure they include any required supporting information recommended by the relevant guidelines.

a. Clinical Trials

We follow the WHO definition of a clinical trial (see

"A clinical trial is any research study that prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes. Interventions include but are not restricted to drugs, cells and other biological products, surgical procedures, radiologic procedures, devices, behavioural treatments, process-of-care changes, preventive care, etc."

PLOS Medicine requires that all trials be registered and, as of August 13, 2013, supports the position of the Initiative that trials that are registered after the trial commences or retrospectively will be considered (see the blog post for more details). For all trials, authors are asked to provide the trial registration information and to register their trial in an approved registry (the WHO's list of approved registries is listed here). For trials that were registered after the trial began or retrospectively, authors are asked to provide the following information:

  • The trial registration information (or indicate that registration is in process)
  • The reason for late registration, explained within the Methods section
  • A statement in which all authors affirm that any trials on the same or a related drug or intervention they're involved in are registered, and provide (either as part of the statement or in the supplementary information) links to the published versions of the trials or the registration numbers. This statement will be published in the Methods section.

The editors reserve the right to inform authors' institutions or ethics committees about unregistered trials that have been carried out. Authors will also be asked to submit an accurate summary of the trial's results to the relevant registry (if there is such a mechanism) within a year of study completion or at the time of publication, whichever is the earliest.

Authors of trials must adhere to the CONSORT reporting guidelines appropriate to their trial design. Please check the CONSORT statement Web site for information on the appropriate guidelines for specific trial types. Before the paper can undergo peer review, authors must: 1) provide in the manuscript the trial registry, trial registration number, and IRB, and 2) provide a copy of the trial protocol and a completed CONSORT checklist as supporting files (these documents will also be published alongside the paper, if accepted). The CONSORT flow diagram must be included as Figure 1. Any deviation from the trial protocol must be explained in the paper. Authors must explicitly discuss informed consent in their paper, and PLOS reserves the right to request a copy of the patient consent form. Information on statistical methods or participants beyond what is indicated in the CONSORT statement should be reported in the Methods section.

PLOS supports the public disclosure of all clinical trial results, as mandated, for example, by the FDA Amendments Act, 2007. For trials in registries that permit posting of trial results, PLOS Medicine requires that an accurate summary of the trial's results be submitted to the relevant registry (if there is such a mechanism) within a year of study completion or at the time of publication, whichever is the earliest.

b. Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses

Reports of systematic reviews and meta-analyses should use the PRISMA statement as a guide, and include a completed PRISMA checklist and flow diagram to accompany the main text. Blank templates of the checklist and flow diagram can be downloaded from the PRISMA Web site. Abstracts should follow PRISMA for Abstracts. Authors must also state within the Methods section of their paper whether a protocol exists for their systematic review, and if so, provide a copy of the protocol as supporting information. The journal supports the prospective registration of systematic reviews. Authors whose systematic review was prospectively registered (e.g., in a registry such as PROSPERO) should provide the registry number in their abstract. Registry details and protocols will be made available to editors and reviewers, and included with the paper if the report is ultimately published.

PLOS Medicine does not publish narrative reviews except as part of invited Collections.

c. Diagnostic Studies

Reports of studies of diagnostic accuracy should conform to the STARD requirements and include a completed checklist as supporting information.

d. Epidemiological Studies

For reports of epidemiological studies, authors should consult the STROBE initiative and the study report should conform to the relevant aspects of the guidelines.

e. Microarray Experiments

Reports of microarray experiments should conform to the MIAME guidelines, and the data from the experiments must be deposited in a publicly accessible database.

f. Checklists for Biological and Biomedical Research Investigations

We recommend authors refer to the MIBBI Portal (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations) for prescriptive checklists for reporting biological and biomedical research where applicable.

g. Animal studies

Studies including animals should follow the ARRIVE guidelines and include a completed ARRIVE checklist as supporting information.

h. Restoring Invisible and Abandoned Trials (RIAT) studies

PLOS Medicine is participating in the RIAT initiative. Authors should declare their study is a RIAT study in their Presubmission inquiry. Restorative authors should include specific information regarding how they established that the investigators did not intend to publish the study. Authors should adhere to the procedure outlined in the RIAT proposal and PLOS Medicine blog, and include the RIATAR checklist with their submission.

Author Status

All authors will be contacted via e-mail at submission to ensure that they are aware of and approve the submission of the manuscript, its content, authorship, and order of authorship. Articles will not be published unless all authors have provided their assent to publication.

The involvement of any professional medical writer in the manuscript must be declared. We encourage authors to consult the European Medical Writers' Association Guidelines on the role of medical writers.

PLOS Medicine bases its criteria for authorship on those outlined in the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals, which are excerpted below. The contributions of all authors must be described. Contributions that fall short of authorship should be mentioned in the Acknowledgments section of the paper.

  • Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; 3) final approval of the version to be published; and 4) agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript. These individuals should fully meet the criteria for authorship/contributorship defined above, and editors will ask these individuals to complete journal-specific author and conflict-of-interest disclosure forms. When submitting a manuscript authored by a group, the corresponding author should clearly indicate the preferred citation and identify all individual authors as well as the group name. Journals generally list other members of the group in the Acknowledgments. The NLM indexes the group name and the names of individuals the group has identified as being directly responsible for the manuscript; it also lists the names of collaborators if they are listed in Acknowledgments.
  • Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.
  • All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.
  • Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.

PLOS journals follow the COPE guidelines regarding changes in authorship. Please note that if any changes to the list of authors of a manuscript are necessary after the initial submission of a manuscript to a PLOS journal but before its publication, the corresponding author must first contact the journal staff and provide a clear reason for the change(s). If the change to the authorship list is appropriate and in keeping with the guidelines above, the corresponding author will be asked to provide written confirmation that all other authors listed on the manuscript at that time consent to the change(s). Any individuals who the corresponding author requests to add or remove from the list of authors will be contacted.

Competing Interests

All authors will be contacted by e-mail at submission of the full paper to declare whether they have any financial, personal or professional interests that could be construed to have influenced their paper. Reviewers are asked to declare any interests that might interfere with their objective assessment of a manuscript. Any relevant competing interests of authors must be available to editors and reviewers during the review process and will be stated in published articles. See more information on the policy of PLOS towards competing interests.

Prior Publication(s)

When submitting an article, all authors are asked to indicate that they have not submitted a related or duplicate manuscript for publication elsewhere. If related work has been submitted elsewhere, then a copy must be included with the article submitted to PLOS. Reviewers will be asked to comment on any overlap between related submissions.

10. Preparation of Research Manuscripts

PLOS Medicine publishes original research articles of outstanding medical importance. We will consider manuscripts of any length; we encourage the submission of both substantial full-length bodies of work and shorter manuscripts that report novel findings that might be based on a more limited range of experiments.

The writing style should be concise and accessible, avoiding jargon so that the paper is understandable for readers outside a specialty or those whose first language is not English. Editors will make suggestions for how to achieve this, as well as suggestions for deletions or additions that could be made to the article to strengthen the argument. Our aim is to make the editorial process rigorous and consistent, but not intrusive or overbearing. Authors are encouraged to use their own voice and to decide how best to present their ideas, results, and conclusions. Although we encourage submissions from around the globe, we require that manuscripts be submitted in English. Authors who do not use English as a first language may contact us for additional information. As a step towards overcoming language barriers on acceptance of the paper, we encourage authors fluent in other languages to provide copies of their full articles or abstracts in other languages. We will publish these translations as supporting information and list them, together with other supporting information files, at the end of the article text.

Article File Types

Articles can be submitted for review in DOC, DOCX, RTF, or PDF. Any articles that have been prepared in LaTeX will be accepted for review, but only in PDF format.

Microsoft Word Submissions with Equations

If your manuscript is or will be in Microsoft Word and contains equations, you must follow the instructions below to make sure that your equations are editable when the file enters production.

  1. Format display equations only in MathType (
  2. Do not use Equations tools or Symbol font for any equation formatting. If your inline equations require special formatting, use MathType.
  3. Do not use Graphic Objects.

If you have already composed your article in Microsoft Word and used its built-in equation editing tool, your equations will become unusable during the typesetting process. To resolve this problem, re-key your equations using MathType.

If you do not follow these instructions, PLOS will not be able to accept your file.

Organization of the Manuscript

Research Articles published in PLOS Medicine generally will be organized into the following sections: title, authors, affiliations, abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, acknowledgments, references, figure legends, supporting information captions and tables. PLOS articles do not support text footnotes. If your accepted submission contains footnotes, you will be asked to move that material into either the main text or the reference list, depending on the content. Uniformity in format will help readers and users of the journal. We recognize, however, that this format is not ideal for all types of studies. If you have a manuscript that would benefit from a different format, please contact the editors to discuss this further. Although we have no firm length restrictions for the entire manuscript or individual sections, we urge authors to present and discuss their findings concisely.

Our submission system can support a large range of formats for text and graphics, but if you experience difficulties with the site or are concerned about the suitability of your files, please contact the production department,

Title (150 characters and spaces)

The title should be specific to the study yet concise, and should allow sensitive and specific electronic retrieval of the article. It should be comprehensible to readers outside your field. Avoid specialist abbreviations if possible. For randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews/meta-analysis, and often other types of studies, the subtitle should include the study design. Please also provide a brief "running head" of approximately 40 characters.

Title examples:
The Effect of Intermittent Antenatal Iron Supplementation on Maternal and Infant Outcomes in Rural Viet Nam: A Cluster Randomised Trial
Domestic Violence and Perinatal Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Authors and Affiliations

Provide the first names or initials (if used), middle names or initials (if used), surnames, and affiliations—department, university or organization, city, state/province (if applicable), and country—for all authors. One of the authors must be designated as the corresponding author. It is the corresponding author's responsibility to ensure that the author list, and the summary of the author contributions to the study are accurate and complete. If the article has been submitted on behalf of a consortium, all consortium members and affiliations should be listed after the Acknowledgments.

(For authorship criteria, see Supporting Documentation and Materials Required at Submission)


The Research Article abstract is divided into the following three sections: Background, Methods and Findings, and Conclusions. It should contain all the following elements (items in square brackets are needed only for some study types). Please use the same format for abstracts submitted as presubmission inquiries. PLOS Medicine does not have a specific length requirement for abstracts submitted as part of the manuscript, but no more than 300 words can be submitted in the online interface of the manuscript submission system. If abstracts are longer than 300 words, please submit the first 300 words to the system.


This section should clearly describe the rationale for the study. It should end with a statement of the specific study hypothesis and/or study objectives.

Methods and Findings

Describe the study participants or what was studied (e.g. patient population, cell lines; be as specific as possible, including numbers of individuals studied). Describe the study design, intervention if applicable, main methods used, primary outcome measure(s), and length of follow up if applicable.

[If appropriate, include how many participants were assessed out of those enrolled. For survey research, include the response rate.]

[If critical to the understanding of the paper, describe how results were analyzed, i.e. which specific statistical tests were used.]

Describe the main outcomes and quantify the results using a measure of precision (e.g., 95% confidence interval). Describe any adverse events.

Describe the main limitations of the study.


Provide a general interpretation of the results with any important recommendations for future research.

[For a clinical trial, provide any trial identification number(s) and name(s) (e.g. trial registration number, protocol number or acronym).]


The Introduction should discuss the purpose of the study in the broader context. As you compose the introduction, consider readers who are not experts in this field. Include a brief review of the key literature., including related prior research and whether the submitted study is novel. If there are relevant controversies or disagreements in the field, they should be described so that a non-expert reader can appreciate the rationale for the submitted study. The introduction should conclude with a brief description of the overall aim of the research.


The Methods should provide enough detail for reproduction of the research. Protocols for new methods should be included, but well-established methodological procedures may simply be referenced. A full description of the Methods should be included in the manuscript itself rather than in a supplemental file. Methods should also include a section with descriptions of any statistical methods used. The description should conform to the criteria outlined by the Uniform Requirements, as follows: "Describe statistical methods with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to verify the reported results. When possible, quantify findings and present them with appropriate indicators of measurement error or uncertainty (such as confidence intervals). Avoid relying solely on statistical hypothesis testing, such as P values, which fail to convey important information about effect size. References for the design of the study and statistical methods should be to standard works when possible (with pages stated). Define statistical terms, abbreviations, and most symbols. Specify the computer software used."


The Results section should include all primary and secondary outcome measures analyzed. The section may be divided into subsections, each with a concise subheading. Tables and figures central to the study should be included in the main paper. Datasets, including raw data, that are too large to include in the main paper, should be deposited in a publicly accessible databank and the accession number provided, or submitted as supporting files. The results section should be written in past tense.

As outlined in the Uniform Requirements, "when data are summarized in the Results section, give numeric results not only as derivatives (for example, percentages) but also as the absolute numbers from which the derivatives were calculated, and specify the statistical methods used to analyze them. Restrict tables and figures to those needed to explain the argument of the paper and to assess supporting data. Use graphs as an alternative to tables with many entries; do not duplicate data in graphs and tables. Avoid nontechnical uses of technical terms in statistics, such as ‘random’ (which implies a randomizing device), ‘normal,’ ‘significant,’ ‘correlations,’ and ‘sample.’"

"Data not shown" is not acceptable; all data should be provided, at least in a supplemental file.


The Discussion should be concise and tightly argued. It should start with a brief summary of the main findings. It should include paragraphs on the generalizability, clinical relevance, strengths, and, the limitations of your study. You may wish to discuss the following points also: What are the key implications of the research? How can future research build on these observations and what are the key studies that are needed?


People who contributed to the work but do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in the Acknowledgments, along with their contributions. It is the author's responsibility to ensure that anyone named in the acknowledgments agrees to be named.

Details of the funding sources that have supported the work should be provided in the funding statement. Do not include them in the Acknowledgments.


Only published or accepted manuscripts should be included in the reference list. Papers that have been submitted but not yet accepted should not be cited. All “personal communications” should be supported by a letter from the relevant authors and not included in the reference list.

Style information:

  • PLOS uses the numbered citation (citation-sequence) method and first five authors, et al.
  • References are listed and numbered in the order in which they appear in the text.
  • In the text, citations should be indicated by the reference number in brackets.
  • The parts of the manuscript should be in the correct order before ordering the citations: body, boxes, figure captions, tables, and supporting information captions.
  • Abstracts and author summaries may not contain citations.
  • Journal name abbreviations should be those found in the National Center for Biotechnology Information databases:

Because all references will be linked electronically as much as possible to the papers they cite, proper formatting of the references is crucial. For convenience, a number of reference software companies supply PLOS style files (e.g., Reference Manager, EndNote).

Published Papers

1. Hou WR, Hou YL, Wu GF, Song Y, Su XL, et al. (2011) cDNA, genomic sequence cloning and overexpression of ribosomal protein gene L9 (rpL9) of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Genet Mol Res 10: 1576-1588.

Note: Use of a DOI number for the full-text article is acceptable as an alternative to or in addition to traditional volume and page numbers:

Barth J, Munder T, Gerger H, Nüesch E, Trelle S, et al. (2013) Comparative efficacy of seven psychotherapeutic interventions for patients with depression: A network meta-analysis. PLoS Med 10(5): e1001454. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001454

Accepted, unpublished papers

Same as above, but “In press” appears instead of the page numbers or DOI.

Web sites or Online Articles

1. Huynen MMTE, Martens P, Hilderlink HBM (2005) The health impacts of globalisation: a conceptual framework. Global Health 1: 14. Available: Accessed 25 January 2013.


1. Hansen B (1991) New York City epidemics and history for the public. In: Harden VA, Risse GB, editors. AIDS and the Historian. Bethesda: National Institutes of Health. pp. 21-28.

Author Contributions

All authors listed on a paper will be contacted separately to provide information about their contribution and competing interests into our system. This information will be pulled into the article file on acceptance.


This section should describe sources of funding that have supported the work. Please include relevant grant numbers and the URL of any funder's Web site. Please also include this sentence: "The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript." If this statement is not correct, you must describe the role of any sponsors or funders, and amend the aforementioned sentence as needed.

Competing Interests

This section should list specific competing interests associated with any of the authors. If authors declare that no competing interests exist, the article will include a statement to this effect.


Please keep abbreviations to a minimum. List all non-standard abbreviations in alphabetical order, along with their expanded form in a seperate paragraph entitled Abbreviations. All abbreviations should be expanded at first mention in the text.


The use of standardized nomenclature in all fields of science and medicine is an essential step toward the integration and linking of scientific information reported in published literature. We will enforce the use of correct and established nomenclature wherever possible:

  • We strongly encourage the use of SI units. If you do not use these exclusively, please provide the SI value in parentheses after each value.
  • Species names should be italicized (e.g., Homo sapiens) and the full genus and species must be written out in full, both in the title of the manuscript and at the first mention of an organism in a paper. After first mention, the first letter of the genus name followed by the full species name may be used.
  • Genes, mutations, genotypes, and alleles should be indicated in italics. Use the recommended name by consulting the appropriate genetic nomenclature database, e.g., HUGO for human genes. It is sometimes advisable to indicate the synonyms for the gene the first time it appears in the text. Gene prefixes such as those used for oncogenes or cellular localization should be shown in roman typeface: v-fes, c-MYC, etc.
  • The Recommended International Non-Proprietary Name (rINN) of drugs should be provided.

Accession Numbers

All appropriate datasets, images, and information should be deposited in public resources. Please provide the relevant accession numbers (and version numbers, if appropriate). Accession numbers should be provided in parentheses after the entity on first use. Suggested databases include, but are not limited to:

In addition, as much as possible, please provide accession numbers or identifiers for all entities such as genes, proteins, mutants, diseases, etc., for which there is an entry in a public database, for example:

Providing accession numbers allows linking to and from established databases and integrates your article with a broader collection of scientific information.


If the article is accepted for publication, the author will be asked to supply high-resolution, print-ready versions of the figures. Please ensure that the files conform to our Guidelines for Figure and Table Preparation when preparing your figures for production. After acceptance, authors will also be asked to provide an attractive image to highlight their paper online.

PLOS does not accept vector EPS figures generated using LaTeX. We only accept LaTeX generated figures in TIFF format. Export your LaTeX files as PDFs, and then open them in GIMP or Photoshop and save as TIFF. In general, figures must be generated in a standalone graphics application such as Adobe Illustrator, InkScape, PyMol, MatLab, SAS, etc. Please see our Figure Guidelines for more information.

PLOS applies the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to all figures we publish, which allows them to be freely used, distributed, and built upon as long as proper attribution is given. Please do not submit any figures that have been previously copyrighted unless you have express written permission from the copyright holder to publish under the CC BY license.

Figure Legends

The aim of the figure legend should be to describe the key messages of the figure. The figure should also be discussed in the text. An enlarged version of the figure and its full legend will often be viewed in a separate window online, and it should be possible for a reader to understand the figure without switching back and forth between this window and the relevant parts of the text. Each figure should have a concise title of no more than 15 words. The legend itself should be succinct, while still explaining all symbols and abbreviations. Avoid lengthy descriptions of methods in the figure legend.

Multimedia Files and Supporting Information

We encourage authors to submit essential supporting files and multimedia files along with their manuscripts. All supporting material will be subject to peer review, and should be smaller than 10 MB in size because of the difficulties that some users will experience in uploading or downloading files of a greater size. Supporting Information should not include information central to understanding the methods or results of the study unless necessary because of file type restrictions.

Supporting files should fall into one of the following categories: Dataset, Figure, Table, Text, Protocol, Audio, or Video. All supporting information should be referred to in the manuscript with a leading capital S (e.g., Figure S4 for the fourth supporting information figure). Titles (and, if desired, legends) for all Supporting Information files should be listed in the manuscript under the heading "Supporting Information."

Supporting files may be submitted in a variety of formats, but should be publication-ready, as these files are not copyedited. See the Supporting Information Guidelines for more detail about our requirements for multimedia files and the file formats types we accept.

Supporting Information Captions

Because Supporting Information is accessed via a hyperlink attached to its captions, captions must be listed in the article file. Do not submit a separate caption file. It is acceptable to have them in the file itself in addition, but they must be in the article file for access to be possible in the published version.

The file category name and number is required, and a one-line title is highly recommended. A legend can also be included but is not required. Supporting Information captions should be formatted as follows.

   Text S1. Title is strongly recommended. Legend is optional.

Please see our Supporting Information guidelines for more details.


All tables should have a concise title. Abbreviations should be defined in footnotes. Citations should be provided using the same style as outlined above. Tables occupying more than one printed page should be avoided, if possible, preferably by dividing the table into smaller tables. Tables must be cell-based; do not use picture elements, text boxes, tabs, or returns in tables. Please ensure that the files conform to our Guidelines for Figure and Table Preparation when preparing your tables for production.

11. Preparation of Magazine Manuscripts

The PLOS Medicine Magazine

The PLOS Medicine Magazine is for commentary, debate, analysis, guidance, and review of topics in health and health research. Articles are a mix of commissioned and unsolicited material. Authors of unsolicited articles should always send a presubmission inquiry via our online journal management system so that we can assess the suitability of the topic ahead of formal submission. Magazine articles should be aimed at a general medical audience, and all of the key assertions should be supported by evidence. Three to five short, bulleted Summary Points are required, in place of an abstract. Titles should not include jargon, cliché, or idioms (e.g., “Mind the gap,” “Think outside the box,” “Apples and oranges,” or “Paradigm shift.”)

The PLOS Medicine Magazine has the following sections:


Editorials are written by the PLOS Medicine editors and published monthly.

The PLOS Medicine Debate

These articles will discuss important but controversial issues in clinical practice, public health policy, or health in general. Debates will be mostly commissioned, from two or more authors with differing points of view.

The usual format is that two authors will have the opportunity to express their opinion on a topic of clinical or public health importance within 1000 words, 10 references maximum, and one display item. Each piece will then be sent to the other participant who will be allowed up to 1000 words to respond. Authors should aim to produce a constructive criticism of their opponent's views.

In some cases, we will commission a series of at least three different viewpoints on a topic. For examples of debate articles see:

Chapman S (2012) The Case For a Smoker's License. PLoS Med 9(11): e1001342. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001342

Collin J (2012) The Case Against a Smoker's License. PLoS Med 9(11): e1001343. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001343

Gruskin S, Raad Z (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? Moving Toward Assessment. PLoS Med 7(9): e1000310. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000310

Hunt P, Khosla R (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? The Perspective of the Former United Nations Special Rapporteur (2002-2008). PLoS Med 7(9): e1000330. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000330

Ritter GS (2010) Are Drug Companies Living Up to Their Human Rights Responsibilities? The Merck Perspective. PLoS Med 7(9): e1000343. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000343


Essays are opinion pieces, grounded in evidence, on a topic of broad interest to a general medical audience. They should be up to 1500 words long, with up to 12 references and 2 display items (tables, figures, boxes). Please use a series of sub-headings to guide readers through the article, and cite the key evidence in support of your assertions. In general, PLOS Medicine Essays tend to follow a 3-part narrative structure along the lines of: What is the problem? What is the solution? What needs to happen next?

For examples of Essays see:

Byass P, de Courten M, Graham WJ, Laflamme L, McCaw-Binns A, et al. (2013) Reflections on the Global Burden of Disease 2010 Estimates. PLoS Med 10(7): e1001477. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001477

Redelmeier DA, McLellan BA (2013) Modern Medicine is Neglecting Road Traffic Crashes. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001463. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001463

Tomlinson M, Rotheram-Borus MJ, Swartz L, Tsai AC (2013) Scaling Up mHealth: Where is the Evidence? PLoS Med 10(2): e1001382. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001382

Guidelines and Guidance

The Guidelines and Guidance section contains advice on conducting and reporting research. Articles may raise awareness of emerging methods in biomedical research, announce a new reporting standard or consensus-type statement, or provide a “how to” guide about statistics, study design, or other methodological issues.

It is important that your full article provide details about the method by which the group achieve consensus about the guidelines or guidance you are reporting. The following must be explicitly detailed in Guidelines and Guidance articles:

1. How the panel/experts were selected (as this is an obvious and potential major source of bias, for example)

2. How many potential participants declined/failed to participate

3. How the workshop was conducted and, crucially, how agreement was reached re the various recommendations

4. How the panel ensured dissenting views were aired and considered

5. Unresolved issues

6. A frank discussion of the strengths and limitations of the processes used.

Articles should not exceed 3000 words and may cite up to 30 references. If you have written a longer paper, please prepare a 3000-word summary and then upload the long version as a Supporting Information file.

For more details about the Guidelines and Guidance section, see our editorial on this topic: Better Reporting, Better Research: Guidelines and Guidance in PLOS Medicine. The PLOS Medicine Editors PLOS Medicine 5(4): e99. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050099.

For examples of Guidelines and Guidance articles see:

Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG, The PRISMA Group (2009) Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses: The PRISMA Statement. PLoS Med 6(7): e1000097. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097

MacPherson H, Altman DG, Hammerschlag R, Youping L, Taixiang W, et al. (2010) Revised STandards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture (STRICTA): Extending the CONSORT Statement. PLoS Med 7(6): e1000261. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000261

George A, Young M, Bang A, Chan KY, Rudan I, et al. (2011) Setting Implementation Research Priorities to Reduce Preterm Births and Stillbirths at the Community Level. PLoS Med 8(1): e1000380. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000380

Health in Action

The Health in Action section focuses on innovative health improvement projects. These pieces are often written by health activists, non-governmental organizations, or researchers in low- or middle- income settings. We are particularly interested in featuring articles by groups or individuals who rarely have a voice in medical journals.

The piece should be up to 2000 words, with up to 20 references and 2-3 display items. We ask authors to first set the scene (why was your project needed?), then describe the project itself and discuss any early results of the project and the barriers and difficulties you have faced. Finally, we ask authors to end by looking to the future: where is the project heading next?

For examples of Health in Action articles see:

Agrawal A, Bhattacharya J, Baranwal N, Bhatla S, Dube S, et al. (2013) Integrating Health Care Delivery and Data Collection in Rural India Using a Rapidly Deployable eHealth Center. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001468. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001468


Perspective articles are commissioned from an expert and discuss the clinical practice or public health implications of a published open access study, usually a study published in PLOS Medicine. We do not publish unsolicited Perspectives.

Articles are up to 1000 words in length, with up to 12 references.

For examples of Perspectives see:

Kesselheim AS (2013) Rising Health Care Costs and Life-Cycle Management in the Pharmaceutical Market. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001461. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001461/p>

Bhalla K (2013) The Health Effects of Motorization. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001458. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001458

Stuckler D, Basu S (2013) Malignant Neglect: The Failure to Address the Need to Prevent Premature Non-Communicable Disease Morbidity and Mortality. PLoS Med 10(6): e1001466. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001466

Schneider M, Ny A, de Almodovar CR, Carmeliet P. (2006) A New Mouse Model to Study Acquired Lymphedema. PLOS Medicine 3(7): e264.

Gorny MK, Zolla-Pazner S (2006) Immunoprophylaxis againstAgainst Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV-1. PLOS Medicine 3(7): e259.

Policy Forum

This section is for authors to discuss health issues that have policy implications. We are particularly keen to feature articles by health policymakers that discuss the challenges and opportunities in improving health care for their constituencies. Articles should not exceed 2000 words and may cite up to 30 references.

If you are discussing a particular health policy proposal, first provide the background (why is a particular policy needed?), then outline your proposal and the evidence that supports it, and then describe the challenges that lie ahead in its implementation. The use of display items (tables, figures, boxes) is encouraged. Please keep in mind how others might learn from your experiences.

For examples of Policy Forum articles see:

Luoto J, Maglione MA, Johnsen B, Chang C, S. Higgs E, et al. (2013) A Comparison of Frameworks Evaluating Evidence for Global Health Interventions. PLoS Med 10(7): e1001469. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001469

Hay SI, George DB, Moyes CL, Brownstein JS (2013) Big Data Opportunities for Global Infectious Disease Surveillance. PLoS Med 10(4): e1001413. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001413

Machingaidze S, Wiysonge CS, Hussey GD (2013) Strengthening the Expanded Programme on Immunization in Africa: Looking Beyond 2015. PLoS Med 10(3): e1001405. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001405

Research in Translation (RIT)

Research in Translation articles are focused on the translation of basic to clinical research, or of clinical evidence to practice or policy. In the context of advancing the reader's understanding of a public health issue or the pathophysiology, prevention, or treatment of a particular disease, these articles should clearly demonstrate how the earlier work led to an advance with clear implications for human health. RiT articles may also raise awareness of an unresolved scientific or practical research question in translational medicine, with clear relevance to human health, in order to help inform future research and policy agendas.

The article should provide sufficient history and background to frame the topic for the reader with a general background in medical science. It should then discuss selected advances with attention to how these are expected to improve care or define future research on the topic. The article should conclude with a summary that includes next steps in applying these improvements.

RIT articles should not exceed 2000 words and 20 references. The use of display items (tables, figures, boxes) is encouraged. We also ask authors to include a box with "The Five Key Papers in the Field." For each key paper, please give a sentence on why the paper was such a breakthrough.

For examples of RIT articles see:

van der Worp HB, Howells DW, Sena ES, Porritt MJ, Rewell S, et al. (2010) Can Animal Models of Disease Reliably Inform Human Studies? PLoS Med 7(3): e1000245. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000245

Pai M, Ramsay A, O'Brien R (2008) Evidence-based Tuberculosis Diagnosis. PLoS Med 5(7): e156. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050156

Rogerson SJ, Carter R (2008) Severe Vivax Malaria: Newly Recognised or Rediscovered? PLoS Med 5(6): e136. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050136

Edmond K, Zaidi A (2010) New Approaches to Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Neonatal Sepsis. PLoS Med 7(3): e1000213. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000213

Author Statements Required for Magazine Submissions

Finally, please include two statements with your Magazine submission:

  1. Funding: Please state whether you received any specific funding to write your piece. If you did, please state whether the funder played any role in the article's preparation.
  2. Competing interests: Please state whether you have any competing interests related to the article (see

Student Blog

Since August 2008, student contributions to PLOS Medicine have been hosted on the PLOS Medicine community blog, Speaking of Medicine.

To contribute, students should e-mail pieces between 200-700 words in length to A PLOS Medicine editor will evaluate each submission, and if a piece is approved for posting, a member of the staff will post it on the student’s behalf. Students will be informed in advance of their piece being posted. We hope to make decisions and post quickly.

Prior to the blog, PLOS Medicine published essays called Student Forums and these can be found on the journal Web site.

12. Outline of the Production Process

Once an article has been accepted for publication, the manuscript files are sent to our production system. The article is copyedited by a professional copyeditor who will correspond directly with the author about needed revisions. An Editors' Summary of the study is also added. Once the article has been typeset, galley proofs are sent as PDFs to the author to check for serious errors of fact: errors in author names or affiliations, errors of scientific fact that would cause misunderstandings to readers, and printer's (introduced) errors. Other correction requests cannot be fulfilled. Corrections to scientific errors may require editorial approval and can cause delays. The prompt return of both the copyedited article and the proofs by authors will help ensure that publication of the article is not delayed.

13. Embargoes and the Media

Authors may present and discuss their findings ahead of publication: at medical or scientific conferences, on preprint servers, in public databases, and in blogs, wikis, tweets, and other informal communication channels. We recommend, however, that authors not contact the media or respond to such contact unless an article has been accepted for publication and an embargo date has been established. Respect for press embargoes will help to ensure that your work is reported accurately in the popular media, and that the full peer-reviewed paper is freely available to any interested reader when the news item is published. If a journalist has covered a piece of work ahead of publication, this will not affect consideration of the work for publication. See also our embargo guidelines for journalists.

14. Reader Responses and Notes, Comments and Ratings

To contribute to an existing discussion about an article or to start a new one, see the Guidelines for Notes, Comments and Ratings to learn how to comment on any PLOS Medicine article.