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Research Integrity and Publication Ethics

PLOS upholds the highest international standards for research integrity and publication ethics.

Our nonprofit journals serve researchers and research stakeholders in transforming scholarly communication for the better and when it comes to scientific rigor and editorial integrity, we do not compromise. Working with our communities to inspire, implement, and enforce leading policies for ethical research conduct and academic integrity is a critical pillar of our mission to build an open, fair, and trustworthy foundation of knowledge that all can build from.

PLOS is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). PLOS journals abide by COPE’s Code of Conduct and aim to adhere to its Best Practice Guidelines.

We safeguard the integrity of the scholarly record

PLOS has a dedicated Publication Ethics Team with specialized expertise in research integrity. In collaboration with the journal teams, they develop ethics-related policies and workflows, address concerns raised about PLOS content, and help to protect PLOS journals from large-scale integrity issues such as paper mills and peer review and citation rings. They provide robust guidance and consistent support to the expert Editors-in-Chief, Executive Editors, Staff Editors and Editorial Board members who lead our journals.

PLOS staff regularly contribute their expertise to industry-leading policies and working groups including:

We set high expectations for ethical conduct

PLOS has established leading policies for the researchers who choose to contribute to our journals as authors, editors, and reviewers, and we hold ourselves accountable to the same standards

All contributors to our journals must:

We manage quality before, during, and after peer review

Pre-publication ethics and integrity checks

All submissions undergo a series of pre-publication checks to ensure that they meet PLOS’ core requirements, including adherence to our research ethics and publication ethics policies. These include but are not limited to checks for:

  • Research ethics approvals for human subjects and animal research
  • Informed consent statements for human subjects research
  • Text overlap and reuse (plagiarism)
  • Dual submission 
  • Compliance with PLOS policies on competing interests and authorship

To support integrity checks, investigations into integrity concerns, and other aspects of submission processing, PLOS evaluates submissions using a combination of manual approaches and technology tools which may include AI tools or other web-based platforms.

Rigorous peer review and editorial evaluation

All published articles are peer-reviewed by experts in the field and evaluated by our trusted Editorial Board Members and/or Editorial Staff and undergo thorough screening for compliance with our policies.

Post-publication processes

Scholarly communication is a continuous cycle and our work does not stop when a paper is published. PLOS follows up on all concerns raised about our submissions or publications in accordance with COPE guidance and PLOS policies, and where appropriate, we retract, correct, or issue editorial notices (Editorial Notes, Expressions of Concern) to address verified issues.

If you have concerns about the integrity of a PLOS article, please email

We respond to emerging challenges

Challenges around ensuring the integrity of the published record affect our whole industry. Our Publication Ethics team is proactive in developing policies and processes to address these issues, and share our learnings with the scholarly community.

Manipulation of the publication process

Manipulation of the publication process encapsulates a variety of issues including fabrication and/or sale of content, peer review, or authorship (e.g. via “paper mills”) and peer review manipulation.

What we’re doing: We have systems in place to detect and follow up on concerning patterns across submissions that may be indicative of papermill involvement or attempts to manipulate peer review. In 2023 we implemented a new policy that enables us to take clear action in addressing these concerns whether they are identified before or after publication.

Use of AI writing tools

Artificial intelligence tools can be useful for researchers in conducting research and communicating research findings. However, the rise in generative AI tools also presents risks of inaccurate information, lack of attribution to original sources, and production of fabricated content.

What we’re doing: In 2023, PLOS implemented a new policy requiring authors to disclose any AI tools used in the study or an article’s contents, and to ensure the accuracy and correct attribution of ideas generated by AI tools. It also outlines steps PLOS will take if concerns are raised about AI tool usage. Our Ethical Peer Review policy outlines our position on AI tool usage in peer review.

We encourage Open Science practices that enhance research integrity

We’re committed to improving the ways in which research is discovered, assessed and recognized for its academic rigor, transparency, and utility to the broader scholarly community.

Open Science practices reduce opportunity for bias, improve reproducibility and provide readers with additional context to understand, evaluate and continue building upon research findings. PLOS offers several markers that readers can use to deepen their understanding of the research we publish:

ORCiD IDRequiredAll corresponding authors must provide an ORCiD ID when submitting to a PLOS journal. Co-authors, reviewers, and editorial board members are also encouraged to provide an ORCiD ID to provide a more detailed scholarly record.
Data availabilityRequiredOur Data Availability Policy mandates all authors make their data publicly available.
Data depositionHighly encouragedUse of a data repository extends the longevity and reproducibility of research data. Look for our “Accessible Data” icon to find articles with research data that has been shared in an open repository.
Open codeHighly encouragedSharing code that underpins the study’s findings is required for authors submitting to PLOS Computational Biology and encouraged for all other journals.
Open methodsHighly encouragedPLOS journals offer a variety of discipline-specific solutions such as preregistration or published protocols that enhance reproducibility and reusability.
Published peer reviewHighly encouragedAuthors who choose to publish their Peer Review History alongside their published article enable readers to verify the expert assessment behind the work.

Maintaining the integrity of the published corpus is a collaborative effort

We’re dedicated to providing additional training, support, and resources that empower researchers at all career levels to engage in best practices.

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Editor Center

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Peer Review Center

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Writing Center

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