Ask everyONE: Article Types

Our featured question for May is one that PLoS ONE authors and readers often ask us – some variation of:

Does PLoS ONE just publish primary research articles or can I submit a literature review for consideration?

PLoS ONE was established to provide a venue for the publication of primary scientific research. This means that we cannot consider for publication literature reviews, mini-reviews, commentaries, essays, book reviews or any other items of secondary literature (unless invited by PLoS staff for a specific purpose; the Overview articles of our Stress-Induced Depression Collection, for example).

One of our editorial criteria, which our Academic Editors and peer reviewers use to evaluate whether or not a manuscript can be published, is whether or not the manuscript reports on primary scientific research—manuscripts that don’t meet this criterion will be rejected.

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses can be published in PLoS ONE but must be highly rigorous in the comprehensive and unbiased sampling of existing literature and must describe the methods used for the selection, inclusion and exclusion of data. For example, when submitting reports of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs), authors should follow the QUOROM guidelines and include a copy of a completed QUORUM checklist and flowchart. Full details of these requirements can be found on the PLoS ONE website.

What about Letters to the Editor?

Our authors and readers often ask whether it is possible to publish a “Letter to the Editor” in response to another article published in PLoS ONE. We do not publish “Letters to the Editor” in PLoS ONE, as all of the research articles we publish must contain new information.  However, we are very keen to see the online discussion and debate of the articles we have published, and to achieve this we encourage the use of the Web 2.0 tools provided by the Topaz publishing platform, including Notes that highlight specific points within the manuscript and Comments in which the manuscript can be discussed more broadly. There is no reason why these Comments cannot be very detailed; see, for example, the discussion thread on this article by Fitzpatrick et al. As a result, we encourage people to publish their ‘Letter to the Editor” responses using our commenting functionality.

To read more about PLoS ONE’s editorial criteria, visit our website, and to submit your research to PLoS ONE, visit our online submission system. Don’t forget to post the questions you’d like us to answer in future blog posts in the comments on this (or any subsequent Ask everyONE) post!

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