If you have been invited to review a manuscript, please use the online manuscript submission system.
PLOS Medicine publishes 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.
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.
Manuscripts should represent a substantial advance in medical science or medical practice within the scope of the journal as noted above in terms of:
Submitted manuscripts will be assigned to one of the PLOS Medicine editors. If the paper is deemed to be within the scope of the journal with regard to content and of a minimum quality 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 out for peer review. The professional and academic editors then together make a decision based on the reviewers' comments. There are several types of decision possible:
When differences of opinion occur between reviewers, the professional editor and the academic editor weigh all comments and arrive at a balanced decision based on all comments. To assist in this process, the reviewer should provide the editors with as much information as possible. A review that clearly outlines reasons both for and against publication is therefore of as much, or even more, value as one that makes a direct recommendation.
If reviewers appear to disagree fundamentally, the editors may choose to share all the reviews with each of the reviewers and by this means elicit additional comment that may help the editors to make a decision. The academic and professional editors then assess the recommendations and comments of the reviewers alongside comments by the authors and material that may not have been made available to those reviewers.
When a paper has been revised in response to comments by reviewers or when authors feel their argument has been misconstrued in review, we ask reviewers to offer additional comments on the revised or contested manuscript. We request that reviewers make themselves available to provide such follow-up advice. We are nevertheless aware that reviewers do not wish to be involved in extended discussions over papers, and we keep such consultations to a minimum while still allowing authors a fair hearing.
We decide on reviewers for a particular manuscript based on many factors, including expertise, reputation, specific recommendations of authors and academic editors, and the professional editor's own knowledge of a reviewer.
As part of our editorial procedure, we regularly confer with potential reviewers before sending them manuscripts to review. Reviewers should bear in mind that even these initial messages or conversations contain confidential information.
The purpose of the review is to provide the academic and professional editors with an expert opinion regarding the quality of the manuscript under consideration, and should also supply authors with explicit feedback on how to improve their papers so that they will be acceptable for publication in PLOS Medicine. In the interests of complete transparency we do not allow confidential comments for the editors. Please therefore assume that all the comments you make will be transmitted to the authors. The best possible review would answer the following questions:
Please note: At this time we cannot accept reviews submitted as documents if they were created in Microsoft Office 2007, even if "saved down" to the 2003 version. Major changes made in Word 2007, relative to earlier versions of Word, are incompatible with the established workflow processes of many publishers (e.g. the handling of mathematical equations). PLOS is actively seeking solutions to this problem. If you use Word 2007 please paste your review into the reviewer form or e-mail the text of the review to plosmedicine [at] plos.org.
If you intend to provide a marked up copy of your manuscript as part of your review, you can do so by uploading the file to the review form. However, we prefer to have these marked-up files in PDF format rather than Word to ensure that the comments and annotations can be easily forwarded to the author. Please remember to anonymize your comments.
In the case of manuscripts deemed worthy of consideration, we would appreciate additional advice from the reviewer on the following:
The best possible review of an article in the PLOS Medicine Magazine section would consider a different set of questions:
Relevance and interest
The review process is strictly confidential and should be treated as such by reviewers. Because the author may have chosen to exclude some people from this process, no one not directly involved with the manuscript, including colleagues or other experts in the field, should be consulted by the reviewer unless such consultations have first been discussed with the professional editor.
PLOS Medicine believes that an efficient editorial process that results in timely publication provides a valuable service both to authors and to the community at large. We therefore request that reviewers respond promptly, usually within 14 days of receipt of a manuscript. If reviewers need more time, we request that they contact us promptly so that we can keep the authors informed and, if necessary, assign alternate reviewers.
PLOS Medicine encourages open (non-anonymous) peer-review. As a default, we will pass a reviewer's name on to the authors along with the comments. However, if reviewers do not wish to have their name revealed, we will honor that request. We discourage any attempt on the part of authors to discover the identity of any reviewer or to contact this person directly. We encourage the reviewers to adopt the same policy. The academic editor is also anonymous to authors and reviewers unless and until a manuscript is accepted for publication. The academic editor's name is then indicated in the published article.
The editors and PLOS staff do not edit any comments made by reviewers unless the language is deemed inappropriate for professional communication or the comments contain information considered confidential. In their comments to authors, reviewers are encouraged to be honest but not offensive in their language. On the other hand, authors should not confuse frank and perhaps even robust language with unfair criticism.
In the interests of complete transparency we do not allow confidential comments for the editors. Reviewers should therefore assume that all the comments you make will be transmitted to the authors.
As far as possible we respect requests by authors to exclude reviewers whom they consider to be unsuitable. We also, as much as possible, try to rule out those reviewers who may have an obvious competing interest, such as those who may have been collaborators on other projects with the authors of the manuscript under review, those who may be direct competitors, those who may have a known history of antipathy with the author(s), or those who might profit financially from the work. Because it is not possible for all such competing interests to be known by a particular editor, we request that reviewers who recognize a potential competing interest inform the editors or journal staff and recuse themselves if they feel that are unable to offer an impartial review.
Click here for more general information on PLOS's policy regarding competing interests. When submitting your review you must indicate whether or not you have any competing interests.
On occasion, reviewers may be asked to offer their opinion on a manuscript that they may have reviewed for some other journal. This is not in itself a competing interest. That two journals have identified the same person as especially well qualified to judge the manuscript under consideration does not in any way decrease the validity of that opinion and may perhaps even enhance it.
We send reviewers' comments along with the decision letter to all reviewers of that manuscript. If reviewers have identified themselves, this information will be passed on to other reviewers. Reviewers who may have offered an opinion not in accordance with the final decision should not feel that their recommendation was not duly considered or their service not properly appreciated. Experts often disagree, and it is the job of the editorial team to make a final publication decision.
PLOS publishes several journals. Occasionally, editors recommend after peer review that a particular article is more suitable for another PLOS journal. If the authors choose to pursue that option, we transfer the manuscript and the reviews to the other journal. We expect that reviewers for any PLOS journal are willing to have their reviews considered by the editors of another PLOS journal.
We would like to show our appreciation for the reviewers and academic editors who have provided support and input for the journal since it launched in October 2004. Thanks to the reviewers and academic editors who provided support in reviewing or editing papers in 2010. Thanks also to those who did the same in 2009, 2008, and before January 2007.