Policies & Procedures

Open, ethical, and adhering to discipline-specific best practices.

All PeerJ articles are published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (see each article for the exact CC BY version used). With this license, Authors retain copyright, but allow any user to share, copy, distribute, transmit, adapt and make commercial use of the work without needing to provide additional permission, provided appropriate attribution is made to the original author or source.
By using this license, all PeerJ articles meet or exceed all funder and institutional requirements for being considered Open Access.
Authors cannot use copyrighted material within their article unless that material has also been made available under a similarly liberal license.

Individual Memberships and Article fees

The submitting author will have created a free PeerJ account at the time of submission. Any co-authors will receive an email after submission with directions on how to confirm their co-authorship. Remember to check spam folders for missing PeerJ email, and we recommend you add accounts@peerj.com to your email contact lists.
After receiving a final decision of "Accept" and before the manuscript will move into production, you must decide how to pay for the publication of your article. There are three options:
  • All named authors can pay for PeerJ Individual Lifetime Memberships - a one-time payment which allows you to publish in PeerJ journals for life. If a manuscript has more than twelve authors then only twelve need to have PeerJ Individual Lifetime Membership plans. The remaining authors must have at least a free PeerJ account.
  • Alternatively, you can choose to pay a single article processing charge (APC) to publish the accepted article.
  • If your institution has an agreement with PeerJ then apply for fee assistance as as explained on your institution's application page. Find out if your institution has a prepaid plan.
Waiver Policy: Authors from countries that are classified by the World Bank as Low-income economies can request a waiver of our individual membership requirements for a single publication, one per submitting author, per year. If every co-author on a submission is from a country classified by the World Bank as a Low-income economy we will waive the individual membership requirements for every author upon request, thus making publication free.
Undergraduate Waiver Policy: If the authors choose the PeerJ Individual Lifetime Membership route, any co-author who was an undergraduate at the time of the research may request a one-time waiver of the Individual Membership requirement, provided the paper has senior co-author(s) who have a paid Individual Lifetime membership plan.
Authors should indicate their request and reason for a waiver in the "Confidential Notes to Staff" field upon submission. Academic Editors and reviewers are not made aware of the waiver request.

Author Policies

The Submission Admin's Role and Responsibilities are to:

Inform all co-authors of the submission of the manuscript to PeerJ (note: each co-author will receive a confirmation email upon submission and will need to confirm their authorship).
Ensure that the manuscript is in full adherence with all journal policies (including such items as publication ethics, data deposition, materials deposition, etc). Additionally ensure that all co-authors are aware of, and in compliance with, all PeerJ policies and procedures.
Manage all correspondence between PeerJ and all co-authors, keeping the full co-author group apprised of the manuscript progress.
Designate a substitute correspondent for times of unavailability.
Ensure that by the point of Editorial Acceptance all co-authors have paid publishing plans or assume responsibility for their publication charges (note: authors can pay for a publishing plan at any point up to, and including, Editorial Acceptance).
The submission must be created (and completed) by one of the co-authors, not by an agency or by some other individual who is not one of the co-authors.
Ensure the submission is free from spelling errors; grammatical errors; and unclear expression.
Ensure author names entered online exactly match those listed on your article's Author Cover Page.
The Publication Corresponding Author's Role and Responsibilities are to:

Review the proofing PDF and respond to all production queries to ensure the article is ready for publication
Post Publication: Respond to all queries pertaining to the published manuscript, provide data and materials as requested.

Authorship Criteria

  • 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; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.
  • When a large, multicenter group has conducted the work, the group should identify the individuals who accept direct responsibility for the manuscript (3). 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 submission admin 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.

Group authorship

  • When authors meet our Authorship Criteria, they should be named individually in the byline.
  • The formal group that the authors are representing must be named last in the author list.
  • When individual members of the group were active in the study work but did not meet our Authorship Criteria, they should be named in the Acknowledgements section.

Name Change Policy

  • PeerJ understands that an author might need to change their name for a variety of reasons. For some, including trans people, legal name changes might not be available, and it might not be appropriate to perpetuate a previous name. Therefore, we are happy to change an author's name on request, with as few barriers as we can. We do not require a reason or any proof of a legal name change.
  • Names will be changed in PeerJ publications both online and in PDFs and the publication(s) will be republished. The DOI will remain unchanged and the updated metadata will be transmitted to our indexing partner(s) with the intent that future citations will be associated with the correct name.
  • We suggest (but do not require) that the requestor inform their co-authors of the change to ensure that they update the way they cite the article. PeerJ can do this on their behalf (if requested) but will not contact the co-authors unless specifically asked to do so. Neither will we post any notice of the change on the article.
  • To request a name change, please email editor@peerj.com in confidence and we will do our best to implement the change as quickly and seamlessly as we can. The request should come from the author themself. If a third party is making a request on behalf of an author, we must be able to confirm that it is with the knowledge, and at the request, of the author involved.
  • PeerJ will endeavor to follow the prevailing best practices in these matters, as recommended by COPE.

Author type limits

  • Up to two authors can be designated Corresponding Authors.
  • Up to two authors can be designated Submission Admins (responsible for the submission and liasing with the journal).
  • Up to two authors can be designated Equal first authors, either the:
    • first and the second author, or
    • first and last author


PeerJ keeps all details about a submitted manuscript confidential, does not publicly comment about submitted or rejected manuscripts and maintains reviewer confidentiality unless given permission to reveal identities. Authors, reviewers and editors must also treat correspondence as confidential unless explicitly stated otherwise. PeerJ may share materials with relevant parties when possible misconduct is being investigated.

Open Peer Review

PeerJ is a formally peer-reviewed journal. All publications in the journal undergo a single-blind peer review process where reviewers know the identity of the authors but authors do not, by default, know the identity of the reviewers.

However, PeerJ encourages full transparency in the peer review process via a process sometimes known as ‘open peer review’. This takes two forms:
Peer reviewers are encouraged (but not required) to provide their names to the authors when submitting their peer review. If they agree to provide their name, then their personal profile page will reflect a public acknowledgment that they performed a review (even if the article is rejected). If the article is accepted, then reviewers who provided their name will be associated with the article itself.
All reviews of published articles are made public. This includes manuscript files, peer review comments, author rebuttals and revised materials. Note: For submissions created before 13 February 2023, authors were able to opt-opt of publishing their peer review history.

Publication Ethics

PeerJ adheres to the prevailing industry standards and procedures for investigating publication ethics.
PeerJ does not allow dual publication (the same material published twice in the peer reviewed literature), or dual submission (the same material simultaneously submitted to more than one journal).
Specifically, PeerJ does not tolerate plagiarism, data or figure manipulation, knowingly providing incorrect information, copyright infringement, inaccurate author attributions, attempts to inappropriately manipulate the peer review process, failures to declare conflicts of interest, fraud, and libel. This list is not exhaustive - if there is uncertainty of what constitutes such actions, then more resources may be found at the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the Council of Science Editors (CSE), or the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME).
Artificial Intelligence ("AI") is a rapidly evolving tool that can be used (among other things) to write text, generate images and figures, and generate data. PeerJ is aware that any proscriptive policy regarding the use of AI will be quickly overtaken by new developments, however, as a general rule such tools must not be used to deceive or to manipulate any aspect of the peer-review and publication process. AI models may not be listed as an author or used as a peer-reviewer. The use of an AI for any purpose must be clearly declared. Any undeclared use, or attempt to hide the use of AI tools will be treated as a breach of publication ethics.
PeerJ will rigorously enforce our standards, and follow up on any transgressions. In extreme cases, this may call for individuals to be reported to their institutions and/or for manuscripts to be retracted. Any complaints should be directed to editorial.support@peerj.com

Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)

PeerJ adheres to the COPE Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines. We follow recommended COPE procedures whenever we are alerted to an issue which requires investigation.

Competing Interests

PeerJ requires that all parties involved in a publication (i.e. the authors, reviewers and academic editors) should transparently declare any potential Competing Interests (also known as Conflicts of Interest). The disclosure of a Competing Interest does not necessarily mean that there is an issue to be addressed; it simply ensures that all parties are appropriately informed of any relevant considerations while they work on the submission.
Authors are asked to declare all competing interests upon submission. Reviewers are expected to consider any competing interests before agreeing to review, and to confirm that they have no competing interests before submitting their review. Academic Editors are expected to recuse themselves from handling a manuscript if they feel they have a competing interest.
Potential competing interests should be declared even if the individual in question feels that these interests do not represent an actual conflict. Examples of Competing Interests include, but are not limited to: possible financial benefits if the manuscript is published; prior working, or personal, relationships with any of the authors; patent activity on the results; consultancy activity around the results; personal material or financial gain (such as free travel, gifts, etc.) relating to the work; personal convictions (religious, political, etc.) which may have a bearing on the work, and so on.
It is a potential competing interest for any reviewer to suggest a citation to their own work as part of their peer-review. When a peer-reviewer suggests a self-citation they must (1) declare this as a potential competing interest and (2) provide clear justification in their review as to why this citation is relevant to the study. Authors are told that additional references suggested during the peer-review process should only be included if they are in agreement that they are relevant and useful. For further information regarding the ethical responsibilities of peer-reviewers, please see COPE guidelines here.
While possible financial benefits should appear here, actual funding sources (institutional, corporate, grants, etc.) should be detailed in the funding disclosure statement.
The discovery of undisclosed competing interests may result in the journal taking actions which could include cancellation of the review process for affected submissions, removal of involved individuals, or retraction of affected publications.

Funding Disclosure

Separately from declaring Competing Interests, PeerJ also requires that authors disclose the financing which made their work possible.
The Funding statement is published in the final article. This disclosure provides added transparency.

Ethics Statement

Where applicable, PeerJ requires that authors provide an Ethics statement which details the relevant ethical standards which were met when conducting the research.
Ethics statements are required whenever research includes the study of human participants, human tissue, or regulated animals (vertebrates or cephalopods).
In addition to providing an Ethics statement upon submission (for review purposes), this same statement should also be provided in the Materials and Methods section of the manuscript.
The authors must provide an ethics statement as part of their Materials and Methods section detailing full information regarding their approval (including the name of the granting organization, and the approval reference numbers).​​ If an approval reference number is not provided, written approval must be provided as confidential supplemental file.

Field Research Permits and Permissions

When research is conducted in any location other than at the researchers’ institution or a permanent field station then appropriate permission (aka ‘field research permit’) to access the site must have been obtained according to applicable laws and norms.
  • Adequate proof of this permission or a clear indication of how the access was allowed under local or international law must be provided at submission.
  • If verbal permission was obtained then the name and authority of the person who gave it must be provided.
If material (samples, specimens, etc.) were collected then the field permit or a separate collection permit must be provided to show that this was permitted by the appropriate authority.
If materials were exported then documentation must also be provided to show that this was approved by the authority in the source and destination countries according to relevant national and international laws.

Camera Traps, Drones and Passive Acoustic Monitoring: Wildlife studies using recording devices to record still/video images and/or audio have the potential to capture human subjects. This has implications for privacy, and — in the event that illegal acts are captured — a duty on the part of the researcher to report them. There might also be issues of personal safety in the latter case. See https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12033 and https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.374 for more information.

Ideally, this should have been considered by the authors and their ethics committee before the study was approved but we understand that this is not currently a widespread practice. While the field is reaching a consensus on this matter, we ask authors who are reporting data from such studies to explain how the ethical approval/field permit they obtained relate to these issues, or explain why this was not considered necessary.

Where the study uses mobile platforms such as uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs/drones) these must have been operated in accordance with all applicable regulations.

This policy is likely to adapt as the field develops.

This documentation is not necessarily published, but by requiring these documents we aim to ensure the legality and integrity of the science we publish.

Dual Use Research of Concern

Dual Use Research of Concern is defined as "life sciences research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, information, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat with broad potential consequences to public health and safety, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, the environment, materiel, or national security."
On a case by case basis, PeerJ reserves the right to consider whether or not a submission could be considered as sensitive in this context.
If an author, editor or reviewer feels that a submission may be subject to concerns surrounding dual use then it is incumbent on them to report this concern to staff.

Data and Materials Sharing

PeerJ is committed to improving scholarly communications and as part of this commitment, authors must make materials, code, data, and associated protocols available at the time of submission for peer review and publication. The preferred way to meet this requirement is to publicly deposit as noted below. Cases of non-compliance will be investigated by PeerJ which reserves the right to act on the results of the investigation.
  • FORCE11 has developed a useful overview for reporting in the life sciences. Please review these recommendations before submitting. Recommendations cover the following areas: Sequence Molecule Identification, Reporting of Antibodies, Reporting of Model Organisms, Reporting of Cell Lines, Constructs, and Reporting of Knockdown Reagents.
  • Large domain-specific datasets should be deposited in a public repository (e.g. GenBank, INSDC, China National Gene Bank (CNGBdb), Protein Data Bank, UK Stem Cell Bank, Addgene, PRIDE, Panorama, RIKEN Bioresource Centre, ProteomeXchange) and an accession number or access address provided in the published article. Additional databases may be found by consulting the BioSharing database, re3data.org, or the NIH Data Sharing Repositories list.
  • If you are reporting an assembled gene/genome/peptide etc. then you must deposit the raw reads and the assembled sequence in the appropriate databases (e.g. NCBI archives).
  • Authors are encouraged to extend the utility of their manuscripts with the inclusion of helpful meta-data so that published works can find connections to other works in the public domain. Journal manuscripts are often scanned by text-mining software that locates and extracts core data elements, like gene function. Adding standard ontology terms, such as the Gene Ontology or others from the OBO Foundry can enhance the recognition of your contribution and description. This will also make human curation of literature easier and more accurate. Depending on the details of the data being presented, this information may be requested by editors.
  • Where suitable domain-specific repositories do not exist, authors may deposit in Dryad, Dataverse, the Open Science Framework, or an institutional repository and provide the access information with the manuscript. Alternately, authors may choose to deposit non-standard data (including figures, posters, rich media) on Figshare for example. In all cases, the DOI reference (where applicable) should be provided in the article.
  • Any supporting data sets for which there are no suitable repositories may be made available as publishable Supplemental Information files by PeerJ.
  • Data should be provided in an appropriate, machine-readable format. Note: formats such as PDF, Powerpoint, and images of tables etc. are not considered suitable for raw data sharing.
  • Community norms should be followed when storing, archiving and cataloging experimental materials. Where appropriate, physical materials (e.g. type specimens, microbial isolates, mutant seed stock, voucher specimens, paleontological specimens, etc.) must be permanently deposited in recognized centers (e.g. culture collections, seed stock centers, herbaria, or recognized museums or institutions) and accession numbers provided at the time the manuscript is submitted.
  • A non exhaustive list of repositories for physical materials such as cell lines or mutant strains includes the RIKEN Bioresource Centre; the Jackson Laboratory; the European Mouse Mutant Archive; the European Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Program; the American Type Culture Collection; the Knockout Mouse Project; Addgene; the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Centers.
  • Where novel research compounds are used, their chemical identity must be disclosed. Rigorous evidence for both the purity and identity of the materials must be provided so that the reliability of the experimental results can be assessed.
  • Publications using commercial antibodies should report the supplying company and code number for all antibodies used. We recommend reporting using the following format:
    The following antibodies were used: Mouse anti-protein A monoclonal antibody (company E, catalogue number #1000) was used for Western blotting with human cells, as validated in (figure X or reference Y or validation profile Z).
  • In accordance with the principles in Sharing Publication-Related Data and Materials (National Academies Press, 2003), research using proprietary data must also evaluate a piece of comparable public data if the authors cannot or do not make the proprietary data available.
  • For software papers, 'materials' are taken to mean the source code and/or relevant software components required to run the software and reproduce the reported results. The software should be open source, made available under an appropriate license, and deposited in an appropriate archive. Data used to validate a software tool is subject to the same sharing requirements as any data in PeerJ publications.
  • PeerJ is committed to improving scholarly communications and as part of this commitment, authors must make materials, code, data, and associated protocols available at the time of submission for peer review and publication. The preferred way to meet this requirement is to publicly deposit as noted below. Cases of non-compliance will be investigated by PeerJ which reserves the right to act on the results of the investigation.

    • All code needed to reproduce the results of the submission, as well as all raw data, must be made available either:
      • In a repository such as GitHub/GitLab (in which case a DOI, available via Zenodo, is a requirement), OR
      • As a supplementary file, to be published alongside the article
    • GitHub repositories can be archived directly by Zenodo, which creates a DOI. GitLab repositories must be "released", downloaded as a .zip file and then uploaded to Zenodo to obtain a DOI. Other similar archival repositories (e.g. figshare, institutional repositories) may also be used.
    • Third-party code must be cited appropriately, with a DOI (referred) or Software Heritage ID provided where available. Authors should make all reasonable attempts to ensure that the unpublished third-party code can be found by subsequent readers, and encourage the code writer to preserve their project by obtaining a persistent identifier.
    • Data should be provided in an appropriate, machine-readable format. Note: formats such as PDF, Powerpoint, and images of tables etc. are not considered suitable for raw data sharing.
    • Any supporting datasets for which there are no suitable repositories may be made available as publishable Supplemental Information files by PeerJ.
  • 3D scans/models should be uploaded to a repository such as MorphoSource and made public at or before acceptance.
    • Data should be reported on a per-scan/specimen basis - not simply a link to a project. Morphosource provides guidance on how to cite data and can assign a DOI to each scan. If you are using a different repository, please use the most granular citation you can.
    • Authors using MorphoSource to share data during the review process must allow access to a PeerJ "reviewer account" in order to share their private data with editors/reviewers.
      • Authors using MorphoSource to share data during the review process must allow anonymous reviewer access using a temporary access link to the individual media files , as appropriate.
        • At acceptance, authors must make the dataset public and provide the public DOIs for each scan.
    • Authors using a different repository must make arrangements to allow anonymous reviewer access if the data are not public at the time of submission.
In all cases, accession / deposition reference numbers must be provided in the manuscript.
Some repositories offer authors the option to host data associated with a manuscript confidentially, and provide anonymous access to PeerJ for reviewing purposes. In those cases it is the authors' responsibility to coordinate prompt public release of the data with the repository upon acceptance, if kept confidential during peer review.

Any potential restrictions on data, code or materials (for example: proprietary data, material limitations, or information relating to human subjects), including how other researchers might attempt replication without this data, must be disclosed at the time of submission. PeerJ reserves the right to refuse consideration of such articles.

Where data can only be made available with restrictions, you must provide clear instructions on how these may be accessed. Authors may not act as sole contacts for data access so these data must be submitted to a suitable third party such as a data protection or ethics committee at your institution.

Any data or code not already available publicly without restrictions must be submitted for review. These will be handled in confidence by the Academic Editor and reviewers.

Reporting and Study Guidelines


We strongly recommend (and in some cases require) that authors adhere to the reporting standards which have been adopted by their field (or which apply to their study design).

Authors should indicate which standards were followed and should, where appropriate, provide checklists, protocols, flowcharts etc as Supplemental Information as part of their article submission. Where accession or reference numbers have been obtained, these should also be provided in the text.
As a general statement, data should be referred to by the most specific identifier available for the database archive it is submitted to.

All statistical results should be reported in full, including the test that was performed, the reason for choosing that test, the corresponding test statistic, sample size, degrees of freedom, the exact p-value expressed up to 2 decimal spaces unless 'p<0.001' or confidence interval, and effect sizes. Where multiple testing is performed, suitable corrections must be made.

Do not report inferential statistics such as p values or confidence intervals for known quantities such as baseline measurements. The spread of the data can be indicated by descriptive statistics such as standard deviation, or quantiles and ranges.

Where appropriate, we recommend that you overlay bar graphs with scatter plots showing individual data points, or use another method to show the distribution of the data, such as boxplots, violin plots, etc.

Discipline Specific Standards

The following is a non-exhaustive list of standards that should be followed depending on the study type.


PeerJ journals consider timely and well-balanced literature reviews of fields with broad cross-disciplinary interest within the journal's scope. While we do not impose a hard limit, we recommend a maximum of 8,000-12,000 words in order to keep the review focused. The review should include a rationale for why it is needed, describe who it is intended for, and include a description of the procedures used to ensure that it is comprehensive and unbiased (for example, the search strategies that were employed). Gaps in the literature, future avenues of research and opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaborations should be clearly identified. Unbalanced reviews that are performed with the intention of supporting a particular interpretation or point of view will not be considered.

Since, by their nature, literature reviews rely heavily on the published work of others, it is especially important to avoid inadvertent plagiarism by copying and pasting sections of text from the original source. In addition, it is very important, when quoting or paraphrasing, to correctly acknowledge your sources.

We recommend that your review is structured following the guidelines for Literature Review Articles in standard sections.

PeerJ will consider scoping reviews (as literature review submissions) that meet the definition elaborated in Munn et al. (2018).

In accordance with that definition, a literature review should not be used to "...answer a clinically meaningful question or provide evidence to inform practice." If your review does this then PeerJ policy is that it must be submitted as a systematic review/meta-analysis article.

Reference: Munn Z, Peters MDJ, Stern C, Tufanaru C, McArthur A, Aromataris E. 2018. Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodology 18:143 DOI: 10.1186/s12874-018-0611-x.


PeerJ will consider Stage 1 Registered Reports. In brief, Registered Reports separate the review of the research question and protocol from that of the results and discussion. The intention is that if the methodology is peer-reviewed before the work is even performed, that the resulting research article (i.e. Stage 2) will be much more robust and less susceptible to post hoc manipulation (e.g. p-hacking). Please see osf.io/8mpji/wiki/home for a detailed explanation of what a Registered Report is.

Please note that we do not consider Systematic Review protocols or laboratory protocols as Registered Reports.

Authors should use the template at osf.io/93znh when preparing their registered report and that reviewers use the criteria at royalsocietypublishing.org/rsos/registered-reports to assess:

  • The scientific validity of the research question(s).
  • The logic, rationale, and plausibility of the proposed hypotheses.
  • The soundness and feasibility of the methodology and analysis pipeline (including statistical power analysis where applicable).
  • Whether the clarity and degree of methodological detail would be sufficient to replicate exactly the proposed experimental procedures and analysis pipeline.
  • Whether the authors provide a sufficiently clear and detailed description of the methods to prevent undisclosed flexibility in the experimental procedures or analysis pipeline.
  • Whether the authors have considered sufficient outcome-neutral conditions (e.g. absence of floor or ceiling effects; positive controls; other quality checks) for ensuring that the results obtained are able to test the stated hypotheses.

Peer-review of a Registered Report happens as normal, and authors might still be requested to make revisions, etc. before Acceptance. However, it is expected that if a Registered Report is accepted, then assuming the authors follow that protocol, the research article which will then report on the results is effectively pre-approved for publication. This only applies to submissions by the original authors of the Registered Report.

Stage 1 Registered Reports and their subsequent Research Articles are typically published in the same journal but this is not a requirement. Any Research Article should still be submitted and peer-reviewed (and it is our hope that the same Academic Editor will handle both submissions), but if the protocol was followed correctly then the results should be publishable, even if they are negative or inconclusive.


PeerJ welcomes articles describing bioinformatics software tools. These articles should present new software tools (or significant new functionality in existing software) of particular relevance to the bioinformatics and/or computational biology communities. The described tools should provide new computational or analytical functionality for researchers.

The functionality of the software should, where appropriate, be validated using real-world biological data and/or compared to existing tools. If available as a package (e.g. Python, R, Matlab, Octave), it should be accompanied by a minimal script that downloads the data (if not included in the package), loads it, and performs the analysis to reproduce the results (tables, plots, visualizations etc.) in the manuscript. Documentation & comments must be clear and sufficient to allow a typical user to perform the analysis described in the article. Ideally, the tools should be usable in a workflow that encourages reproducible research practices.

The software must be released under an open source license (e.g. MIT, GPL) and be widely available (i.e. hosted in a public repository such as Github or Bitbucket, or an institutional repository). Use of a version control system (e.g. Git, Subversion etc.) is strongly encouraged, as is adherence to language-specific packaging practices where appropriate. We also recommend the inclusion of appropriate unit tests. The software must be free to noncommercial users, and must be accessible without requiring any personally identifiable information. Software and validation data sets must comply with PeerJ Data and Materials Sharing policies. Reliance on a proprietary software such as Matlab does not preclude the publication but in general, a fully open source method is to be preferred.


Bioinformatics studies that are based on the analysis of previously published datasets (for instance, sequences from TCGA, microarray experiments from GEO, data from TARGET, SEER, NHIRD, NHANES, etc.) must both (i) answer a biological question not considered in the original publication (if there is one) or reassess the data to arrive at a different conclusion AND (ii) comprehensively and robustly validate the findings using at least two of the following: independent public data, previously unreported clinical data and/or new experimental data.

If the submission searches or extracts information from a public database but does not either compare independent datasets or validate the findings using primary data, then this will be considered out of scope (as it is an initial exploration rather than a full research article). Splitting a dataset to form a training and testing set, or pooling multiple datasets without a completely independent validation set will not be considered (see e.g. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.102102699).


Mendelian randomization studies must be performed according to the STROBE-MR guidelines. Submissions must include both a completed copy of the STROBE-MR checklist and analysis code to reproduce the results.

Mendelian randomization manuscripts will only be considered if their findings are confirmed experimentally, and described and analyzed in the same submission. Submissions without such confirmation will be rejected as out of scope.

Submissions reporting chloroplast, mitochondrial, or microbial genomes, etc. must either:
  • report and compare three or more new complete sequences with phylogenetic implications with related groups OR
  • for the one sequence case, include at least one of following new finding(s) with its evolutionary implication:
    • large gene content changes (losses, gains, or pseudogenizations);
    • large inversion(s) or translocation(s);
    • large IR expansion(s), contraction(s), loss(es), or shift(s);
    • other notable new evolutionary finding(s); or
    • a phylogenetically new plastid sequence at order or family level.
  • If a gene list is included, appropriate annotations should be attached (e.g standard ontology terms, such as the Gene Ontology (GO) or others from the OBO Foundry).
Submissions reporting Western blot experiments must be accompanied by photos of the full-length blots, bearing appropriate molecular weight ladders. Each lane must be appropriately labeled, and the molecular weights of all of the ladder components must be included. For each Western blot experiment, the same blot must be used for the protein(s) of interest and for the loading controls. Submissions accompanied by cropped blots or using different blots to quantify the loading control and the protein(s) of interest will be rejected.
Studies that use RNA-seq data analysis to examine transcription patterns must consider sequencing depth and the number of biological replicates. As noted in 'A survey of best practices for RNA-seq data analysis' the number of replicates that should be included in an RNA-seq experiment depends on both the technical variability in the RNA-seq procedures and the biological variability of the system in question. These submissions must include both (i) a power analysis calculation and (ii) information on biological and technical replicates used to achieve the claimed statistical power. Submissions that do not report sufficient replication will not be considered.
Articles which report on protein structures should follow the standards laid out in the Worldwide Protein Data Bank (a general resource listing reporting standards, and worldwide deposition databases for protein information).
Articles which report on diagnostic accuracy studies (studies which evaluate the ability of a test to differentiate between patients who have the target condition and those who do not have the target condition) should follow the STARD requirements.

Articles which report on clinical trials must follow the WHO definition of a clinical trial.

In accordance with the ICMJE guidelines, all clinical trials initiated from July 1st 2005 must be registered in an approved registry listed by the WHO or the ICMJE. Unregistered or retrospectively registered trials will not be considered. Where participant recruitment began before trials were publicly registered, authors must a) register all related clinical trials and include the relevant information, in the Methods section, and b) explain the reason for failing to register before participant recruitment, in the Methods section. Registration must be completed before trial interventions or data analysis are begun.

Clinical trials must be reported according to the relevant reporting guidelines (CONSORT for randomized controlled trials and TREND for non-randomized trials).

Specifically, authors must provide a copy of the trial protocol and a completed CONSORT (or TREND) checklist as supplemental information (these documents will also be published with the manuscript, if accepted). The CONSORT flow diagram must also be included, preferably as Figure 1 of the manuscript. The manner of the informed consent should be discussed in the article, and if consent was written, an empty copy of the patient consent form should be provided as a Confidential Supplemental Information file.


Reports of systematic reviews and meta-analyses must include a PRISMA flow diagram as Figure 1, and a completed PRISMA checklist as a Supplemental File (including both page references and sufficient text excerpted from the manuscript to explain how all applicable items were accomplished).

PeerJ requires the prospective registration of systematic reviews that deal with a health-related outcome or report on animal studies. Suitable registries include PROSPERO, which accepts registration of "any ongoing systematic review of studies in humans or animals that has a health related outcome relevant to human health in the broadest sense", OSF which also accepts registration of systematic reviews that report on experimental animal studies, and INPLASY. Retrospectively registered reviews will not be considered.

Authors should provide the registry name and number/URL in the abstract. Registry details and protocols will be made available to Academic Editors and reviewers, and published with the final version of the paper.

Authors should identify (within their Methods section) the authors who performed the search strategy. Please describe how disagreements were resolved and identify the referee in the manuscript.

Systematic reviews or meta-analyses should include those terms in the Title, Abstract and / or full manuscript.

Authors should provide the following information in a Supplemental File: 1. The rationale for conducting the meta-analysis; 2. The contribution that the meta-analysis makes to knowledge in light of previously published related reports, including other meta-analyses and systematic reviews.

For meta-analyses on topics that include genetics, authors should provide a completed checklist (as a Supplemental File) outlining information about the study. Download genetics checklist (.doc).

Reports utilizing quantitative real time PCR should follow the MIQE guidelines (the Minimum Information for Publication of Quantitative Real-Time PCR Experiments) and checklist.
Articles which report on microarray experiments should conform to the standards published by the Functional Genomics Data Society, the most well known of which are the MIAME guidelines. The MIAME checklist must be provided, and the data from the experiments must be deposited in a publicly accessible database (ArrayExpress or GEO) with the accession numbers provided in the manuscript.
Articles which report on medical observational/epidemiological studies (specifically cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies) should adhere to the STROBE initiative.
In addition, we suggest that authors consult the EQUATOR Network (a general resource listing various reporting standards for health research studies); the MIBBI Portal (a listing of Minimum Information guidelines from diverse bioscience communities); or the BioSharing site for additional reporting guidelines or checklists which might apply to their work.

Manuscripts that report on population genetics should include special justification for presenting data based on both limited genetic data (<10 microsatellites or a single, low variability mtDNA region) and/or small sample sizes (<100 individuals). PeerJ does not publish primer notes. Manuscripts that report the characterization of specific primers (such as microsatellites) should include substantial biological analyses, and address a biological question or hypothesis as the focus of the submission.


Manuscripts that report range extensions, life history information, or the description of new species or other taxa should address a biological question or hypothesis as the focus of the submission. Unless there are compelling mitigating circumstances, descriptions of new extant taxa should be based on the whole organism (rather than shells/fragments/organs alone) and be supported by multiple lines of evidence (e.g. morphology, genetics, etc.).


Submissions that screen molecules based on network pharmacology and/or molecular docking calculations must validate the candidate molecules either experimentally, or through molecular dynamics simulations. If the molecular dynamics route is selected, then duplicated simulations (at least 50 ns each) should be conducted on the best ligands.

PeerJ journals do not consider bibliometric/scientometric analyses for peer-review in their own right. A bibliometric analysis will only be considered if it forms part of a literature review or a research article, where it serves to identify the knowledge gap that is addressed by the research.

Animal Research

For research conducted on regulated animals (which includes all live vertebrates and/or cephalopods), prospective approval must have been obtained according to either international or local laws and regulations. Before conducting the research, approval must have been obtained from the relevant body (in most cases an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Ethics Committee, or a government body). The authors must provide an ethics statement as part of their Methods section detailing full information as to their approval (including the name of the granting organization, and the approval reference numbers). If an approval reference number is not provided, written approval must be provided as a confidential supplemental information file.
For research conducted on non-regulated animals, a statement should be made as to why ethical approval was not required.
Submissions must follow discipline-specific guidelines, where available. For example:
  • We require all authors to comply with the 'Animal Research: Reporting In Vivo Experiments' ARRIVE 2.0 guidelines, developed by NC3Rs. A completed full (21-point) ARRIVE 2.0 checklist must be submitted as a supplemental file with any submission that describes an interventional study on regulated animals.
  • Manuscripts describing studies of wildlife must show in their Methods section that they adhere to the ARROW guidelines.
  • Research on non-human primates is subject to specific guidelines from the Weatherall (2006) report, The Use of Non-Human Primates in Research.
Experimental animals must have been handled according to the highest standards. The manuscript must include details of:
  • where the animals were obtained
  • animal care, feeding, housing, and enrichment
  • what experimental interventions were carried out, including details of any analgesia given. If no analgesia, justify this decision.
  • what outcomes were measured
  • sampling techniques, including any anesthetic procedures. If no anesthesia was given, justify this decision
  • details of euthanasia method(s) used. Please refer to the current edition of the AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals for acceptable methods.
  • criteria for euthanizing animals prior to the planned end of the experiment and whether this was needed
  • what happened to any surviving animals at the conclusion of the experiment
  • for studies involving tumors in animal models, all tumor sizes must be reported and photographic evidence provided as a Figure or Supplemental file. The protocol must ensure that experimental animals are humanely euthanized if the tumor size reaches a maximum dimension of 20 mm in mice or 40 mm in rats, or the combined volume of tumors in a single animal reaches 2000 mm³ (mice) or 4000 mm³ (rats).
Articles must be specific in descriptions of the organism(s) used in the study. The description must indicate strain names when known.

Human Subjects Research

For experiments involving human subjects, appropriate prospective approval must have been obtained from the relevant approval body (in most cases the authors’ Institutional Review Board, or ethics committee). The authors must provide an ethics statement as part of their Materials and Methods section detailing full information regarding their approval (including the name of the granting organization, and the approval reference numbers). If an approval reference number is not provided, written approval must be provided as a confidential supplemental information file. Any research must have conformed to the Declaration of Helsinki. If approval was not obtained, the authors must provide a statement explaining why it was not needed.
Authors must include a statement confirming whether informed consent was obtained from all subjects, and what form it took. If consent was written, an empty copy of the consent form/information sheet used must be provided as a Confidential Supplemental Information file. If consent was verbal instead of written, then an explanation should be provided (in the Materials and Methods section), and verbal consent must have been approved by the IRB which gave permission for the study. If the need for consent was waived by the IRB then proof of this must be provided.
Individual privacy and anonymity must be protected. Identifying information (such as names, photographs, identifying data) should not be included in the manuscript. Exceptions can be made only when evidence is provided that the individuals in question have given explicit approval. More information about individual privacy, anonymity, and informed consent can be found in the ICMJE Privacy and Confidentiality guidelines.

New Species


In order to increase discoverability, when naming a new species we recommend that the names are mentioned in the title (where feasible) and in the abstract of your article. If multiple new species are being named then it may not be practical to include all or any of them in the title due to space constraints.

New Zoological Taxonomic Names: Electronic publication of new zoological taxonomic names is now permitted by the ICZN with an amendment to the current Code. To name a new zoological species, genus or family, authors must comply with rules of the ICZN that require details of the publication to be entered into the official ICZN registry, Zoobank. PeerJ is listed in PubMed Central SCIE and CLOCKSS, and will show up as a known journal during the ZooBank registration process.

You will need to contact Zoobank to obtain LSIDs for your new species and for your publication. Please do this as early as possible to avoid delays. For registration of a new zoological taxon, we require two items to be included in your submission.

- In the metadata, the globally unique identifier (GUID), currently a Life Science Identifier (LSID), should be listed with the new species name. For example:

Brachycephalus mariaeterezae sp. nov. urn:lsid:zoobank.org:act:74D8D85E-BE68-4A51-AF85-DC97C564D458

- Authors must use the following text in the Methods section:

"The electronic version of this article in Portable Document Format (PDF) will represent a published work according to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), and hence the new names contained in the electronic version are effectively published under that Code from the electronic edition alone. This published work and the nomenclatural acts it contains have been registered in ZooBank, the online registration system for the ICZN. The ZooBank LSIDs (Life Science Identifiers) can be resolved and the associated information viewed through any standard web browser by appending the LSID to the prefix http://zoobank.org/. The LSID for this publication is: [INSERT HERE]. The online version of this work is archived and available from the following digital repositories: PeerJ, PubMed Central SCIE and CLOCKSS."
New Botanical Taxon: To publish the name of a new botanical taxon (or to publish new combinations or replacement names), PeerJ has two requirements that must be met:

- The globally unique identifier, currently a Life Science Identifier (LSID), should be listed under the new taxon name in the Results Section.

  • At acceptance, the International Plant Names Index (IPNI, a database which deals only with seed plants, ferns & lycophytes) will be contacted by PeerJ editorial staff to provide the identifier. It should be noted that obtaining an LSID isn’t a requirement under the ICN, but it is a requirement of PeerJ.

-Assuming an LSID is obtained, authors will be made aware of them by PeerJ staff and must use the following text in the Methods section:

"The electronic version of this article in Portable Document Format (PDF) will represent a published work according to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN), and hence the new names contained in the electronic version are effectively published under that Code from the electronic edition alone. In addition, new names contained in this work which have been issued with identifiers by IPNI will eventually be made available to the Global Names Index. The IPNI LSIDs can be resolved and the associated information viewed through any standard web browser by appending the LSID contained in this publication to the prefix "http://ipni.org/". The online version of this work is archived and available from the following digital repositories: PeerJ, PubMed Central SCIE, and CLOCKSS".
New Fungal Taxon: As of Jan 2012 the ICN accepts electronic PDFs as publications of record establishing new scientific names for algae, fungi, and plants.

- An additional ICN publication requirement effective January 1, 2013: all manuscripts naming fungi must obtain the citation of an identifier issued by a recognized repository such as MycoBank or Index Fungorum and include it in the protologue (everything associated with a name at its valid publication). Life Science Identifiers (LSIDs) or Globally Unique Identifier are only required for fungi.

- In the Methods section, authors must include a sub-section called "Nomenclature" using the following wording (this example is for taxon names submitted to MycoBank; please substitute appropriately if the name was submitted to Index Fungorum):

"The electronic version of this article in Portable Document Format (PDF) will represent a published work according to the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, and hence the new names contained in the electronic version are effectively published under that Code from the electronic edition alone. In addition, new names contained in this work have been submitted to MycoBank from where they will be made available to the Global Names Index. The unique MycoBank number can be resolved and the associated information viewed through any standard web browser by appending the MycoBank number contained in this publication to the prefix "http://www.mycobank.org/MycoTaxo.aspx?Link=T&Rec=". The online version of this work is archived and available from the following digital repositories: PeerJ, PubMed Central SCIE, and CLOCKSS."
New Bacterial Taxon: The new taxon will be considered validly published when the two requirements below are fulfulled.

- Authors of new names and new combinations must provide evidence that types are deposited in two recognized culture collections in two different countries (i.e. documents certifying deposition and availability of type strains). Upload these certificates as Supplemental Files at submission.

- As required by the Bacteriological Code, the IJSEM publishes Validation Lists containing new names that were effectively published in any journal other than the IJSB/IJSEM. To complete validation of new names effectively published, authors should submit a covering letter and three reprints or photocopies or a PDF file of the published article(s) to the IJSEM Editorial Office.

New Viral Taxon: For viruses, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) has been charged with approving new taxa and names.

- All new viral taxa must be approved by ICTV before any individual taxon (and its name) can be official. To create a new taxon, a proposal should be submitted to the ICTV using the procedures detailed in their FAQ.

- Authors must provide proof that a proposal has been made to ICTV or that their proposal has been accepted at the time of submission in the New Species declaration.
  • If the new taxon is currently under review, cite the URL of the proposal in the metadata:
    This proposed new species [INSERT NAME] has been submitted to the ICTV for consideration. This name is only valid and official after the ICTV has approved the name, and it has been ratified by the membership: [INSERT URL].
  • If the new taxon has been approved but is awaiting ratification, cite the proposal URL:
    This proposed new species [INSERT NAME] has been approved by the ICTV. This name is only valid and official after the ICTV has both approved the name and it has been ratified by the membership: [INSERT URL].
  • If the new taxon has been approved and ratified but is still awaiting publication in the taxonomy, cite the proposal URL:
    This proposed new species [INSERT NAME] has been approved and ratified by the ICTV. It has not yet been published in the annual taxonomy: [INSERT URL].
  • If the new taxon has been approved, ratified and published, cite publication of the annual taxonomy, for instance:
    This new species [INSERT NAME] has been approved and ratified by the ICTV as reported in: “Changes to taxonomy and the International Code of Virus Classification and Nomenclature ratified by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (2018)”. Arch Virol. 2018 May 12. doi: 10.1007/s00705-018-3847-1. PubMed PMID: 29754305.
New Diatom Taxon: For diatom names there is no formal registration necessary but DiatomBase is part of WorMS, and can assign LSID(s) after the name has been published. We recommend that authors make sure their names are included in DiatomBase in a timely manner by forwarding their PDF, DOI or link to their PeerJ publication as soon as possible.

'Critique' submissions

Submissions that are a critique or reanalysis of another published article, or the work of an individual, group or organization may be considered provided they are otherwise in scope for peer review as a research article (for example, they must include a substantial reanalysis of the data, or presentation of new data). In such cases, it is PeerJ policy to invite the critiqued party to comment as a (non-anonymous) reviewer and at least two additional reviewers will also be sought. If published, the review history must be made public.


Reviewer and Editor Opposition

Authors may request that specific individuals be prevented from seeing their submission (a practice known as 'opposition').
Requests to oppose individuals should be limited in nature, should refer to specific individuals (not broad lists or categories of people), and should be made only with good reason.
While we will attempt to accommodate reasonable requests, we cannot guarantee that all requests will be honored.


If an author strongly believes that a decision has been made which is not in accordance with the PeerJ editorial criteria they may appeal the decision by emailing editor@peerj.com
Appeals cannot be prioritised over new submissions and often take some time to be resolved. PeerJ will aim to respond to the initial appeal within two weeks.
Appeals must be submitted with detailed information as to why the original decision was in error, including a point by point response to all reviewer/Academic Editor comments in the decision letter.
PeerJ will review the Appeal and may involve a member of the Editorial Board to decide whether the Appeal should be granted. In some cases this process might involve re-review of the article.
The decision resulting from this process will be considered final.

Blogs, Embargoes, and the Media

PeerJ does not consider articles which have previously appeared in a recognized peer-reviewed journal (as this represents dual publication).
PeerJ accepts submissions which have previously appeared on preprint servers (including PeerJ Preprints and arXiv); have previously been presented at conferences; or have previously appeared in other ‘non journal’ venues (for example: blogs or posters).
We encourage authors to discuss and disseminate their findings as they wish. If they are discussing submissions which have not yet been formally accepted, then they should state this fact. If they are discussing with journalists, they should inform the editorial office so that we are aware of potential news deadlines.
When an article is selected to be Press Released, PeerJ will set an embargo on news coverage corresponding to the publication date of the article. Once it is set, we request that news media do not publish stories ahead of this embargo (primarily as the final article itself will not be available until that date).
Once accepted and press released, authors may not prevent journalists from discussing an embargoed article with other researchers (for example by requiring an NDA to be signed).

Commenting Policies

PeerJ requires that all public comments follow the normal standards of professional discourse.
All commenters are named and their comments are associated to their PeerJ profile.
PeerJ does not allow anonymous or pseudonymous commenting or user profiles.
If a Commenter has any possible Conflict of Interest, they should declare this conflict as part of their Comment.
PeerJ does not tolerate language that is insulting, inflammatory, obscene, or libelous.
PeerJ reserves the right to edit/remove all or parts of Comments to bring them in line with these policies. Repeat offenders will have commenting rights removed. PeerJ is the final arbiter as to the suitability of any comments.
PeerJ publishes accepted manuscripts under a CC BY license.
It is the author’s responsibility to obtain the appropriate permissions from the original publisher to republish any previously published text, figures, tables, Supplementary Information, etc., in an Open Access journal under a CC BY license.

Retraction Policy

PeerJ reserves the right to retract articles which are found to be fraudulent (for example subject to deception such as data manipulation) or in serious breach of one of our policies.

These policies are made available under the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license and can be copied for reuse with attribution.