Frequently Asked Questions About PLOS Genetics

How does the editorial review process work at PLOS Genetics?

Once a new manuscript has passed technical quality control, it is assigned to one of our senior editors—comprising the Editor-in-Chief, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, and Section Editors—depending on the subject matter, workload, and any potential competing interests. This first step usually occurs within a few working days of submission and is followed by an initial evaluation, sometimes in consultation with one or more members of the editorial board. For manuscripts that are considered further, an Associate Editor is assigned who then decides whether to invite external peer reviewers. We aim to have external reviews returned within ten days, although this can take longer depending on personal circumstances. After receipt of the reviewers' comments, the Associate Editor makes a decision, often after consultation with other editorial board members. For manuscripts that are peer reviewed externally, the average duration between submission and first decision has been just over 30 days.

What are the criteria by which manuscripts are returned without external peer review?

If a manuscript is determined to be outside of the journal's scope, is not of sufficient general interest or significance, or technical aspects of the work do not meet the journal's standards, it is returned to the authors prior to external peer review. In general, the editors allow expert peer reviewers to assess questions about criticality, rigor, and validity. Whenever there is any doubt about either the significance or the technical merits of a manuscript, editors routinely use a consultation process with other members of the editorial board to seek further opinions.

How are revised manuscripts evaluated?

Revised manuscripts, along with the document detailing the authors' responses to the review comments and related text changes, are returned to the Associate Editor who rendered the initial decision. It is at this Editor's discretion how the revised version is further evaluated, be it editorially or with input from external peer reviewers. It is not unusual for revised manuscripts to be sent back to the original peer reviewers for further input, especially when the original concerns were substantial. In some cases, the opinion of an additional reviewer may be sought.

The acceptance of a revised manuscript is never guaranteed, but the decision letter will usually provide general guidance intended to be helpful in achieving that end. The major revision of a manuscript may require more than 60 days, in which case we ask that the authors notify the journal office. It is not unusual for manuscripts to go through several rounds of revision.

Can authors appeal against an editorial decision?

PLOS Genetics encourages input from the community regarding editorial and publishing policies. However, appeals against manuscript decisions must be a) limited to the specific manuscript in question, b) made only by the corresponding author, and c) sent by e-mail to plosgenetics [at] Telephone calls or other informal appeals are discouraged and will not be considered. Appeals will only be considered when a reviewer or editor is thought to have made a significant factual error or when his/her objectivity is compromised by a documented competing interest, and when a reversal based on either of these grounds would change the original decision. The journal staff will ask for confirmation of the reason(s) in the first instance. If the authors proceed, the original editor(s) will usually be asked to consider the appeal. Additional editorial board members may also be consulted. Each appeal is treated on its merits and the journal cannot make any guarantees about the turnaround time or outcome.

What article types do you consider for publication?

We primarily publish original Research Articles. PLOS Genetics also provides a forum for the publication of articles of broad interest to the genetics and genomics community, including Editorials, Interviews, Viewpoints, Special Reports, Perspectives, and Reviews. These articles are by invitation only.

Does PLOS Genetics consider methods papers?

PLOS Genetics does consider methods papers when the method is likely to become a major tool that will be broadly used in the field. In addition, although some "purely" methodological papers may be suitable, in general we have an emphasis on papers that also come with an example of their application—the more biologically novel and interesting, the better.

Does PLOS Genetics consider studies utilizing computational genetics or bioinformatics approaches?

We certainly recognize the increasing reliance upon computational work in genetics and genomics investigations, ranging from methods (simulations), to database mining, to comparative sequence analysis. However, the journal encourages "hybrid" studies that also have a strong experimental (that is, "wet bench") component as well, for example, to validate or further support the conclusions. Purely computational studies, and even some hybrids, might be equally or better suited to PLOS Computational Biology or PLOS ONE.

How does the production process work?

Articles accepted for publication in PLOS Genetics enter a streamlined production process that emphasizes speed and efficiency. With guidance from our production department, authors thoroughly check their manuscript for clarity and accuracy and return their final files in formats that conform to the requirements of our publication process. PLOS production staff members then check and tag these files for accuracy of key information (e.g., metadata). The body text is not copyedited and remains largely unaltered; any changes made relate only to the consistency of style. The articles are then typeset, proofed internally by PLOS staff, and published at the earliest opportunity.

What is the relationship between PLOS Genetics and other PLOS journals?

Each PLOS journal is editorially independent. This means that, while one journal's editors may suggest that a paper instead be submitted to another PLOS journal, it is ultimately the choice of authors as to where to (re)submit their paper. The fact that all PLOS journals use the same manuscript submission system means that, with the authors' permission and minor adjustments as desired (e.g., to the authors' cover letter), manuscripts can easily be transferred from one journal to another for further consideration.

Where are PLOS Genetics articles archived?

PLOS Genetics articles are made freely available on our Website as soon as they are published and are also formally archived in PubMed Central and LOCKSS. PLOS Genetics is indexed in PubMed, MEDLINE, PubMed Central, Scopus, Google Scholar, the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), RefAware, EMBASE, Web of Science, and is searchable via Web of Knowledge. In addition, our licensing agreement allows any third party—librarian, institution, or individual—to establish their own archive of PLOS articles. The longevity of any article depends on the ease with which it can be copied and redistributed in multiple locations, and open-access publishing ensures that archiving is as simple as possible.

What is the journal's position on competing interests?

The submitting author is asked at submission to declare, on behalf of all authors, whether there are any financial, personal, or professional interests that could be construed to have influenced the paper. Reviewers are also 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. Read more about PLOS's Competing Interests Policy.