Editorial, Legal, and Ethical Policies

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery adheres to the ethical policies put forth by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the International Committee on Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).


According to the International Committee on Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), an author is defined as one who has made substantive intellectual contribution to the development of a manuscript. The ICMJE guidelines state that “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; 4) Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, 3 and 4. If more than 10 authors are listed for any given manuscript, it will be sent back to the Corresponding Author. Overage should be relocated to the “Acknowledgment” section of the manuscript; authors may write on behalf of “working groups;” all members of working groups can be listed in the acknowledgement section. Special exceptions to this rule can be sought via special request: The Editor-in-Chief will consider your request after you have filled out a form in which all authors attest and sign that they have fulfilled all 4 conditions of authorship. Manuscripts are not allowed to have more than 20 authors. After the initial submission of a manuscript, any changes whatsoever in authorship (adding author(s), deleting author(s), or re-arranging the order of authors) must be explained by a letter to the Editor from the authors concerned. This letter must be signed by all authors on the paper. Copyright assignment must be completed by every author.

Ghostwriting is not permitted by the Journal.  Manuscripts are received with the understanding that they have not been written by unacknowledged freelance writers. Guest authorship and “gift” authorship are also prohibited.

Professional writers and medical writers who contribute substantially to the writing or editing of a manuscript should be acknowledged with their permission or credited in the author list. The financial nature of their contract must be disclosed.

Any clinical manuscripts (the subjects of which are humans, not experimental papers, or manuscripts that have clinical implications or applications) have as its first and corresponding author a practicing physician(s). Coauthors from industry can certainly be included on a paper, but the corresponding author who takes ultimate senior responsibility on the paper must be a practicing clinical physician.

Senior/Corresponding authors must sign a form indicating that the author group listed is solely responsible for the generation of content of the article, and that the article was not ghostwritten and did not have any other unlisted authors. Authors accept responsibility and accountability for the content of the article; the authors- not an industry sponsor- have the final say in what goes into a manuscript. Severe penalties may be incurred if it is later discovered that authorship is not as it was attested to be.

Academic Degrees for Authors

Please limit the total number of academic degrees to a maximum of three (3).

Corresponding Author Contact Information Page

On the second page, the complete name and address of the corresponding author, or the author who is responsible for handling reprints, must appear. This information must include an e-mail address.

Financial Disclosure and Products Page

On the third page of the manuscript, all sources of funds supporting the work and a statement of financial interest, if any, must be included for each author, along with a list of all products, devices, drugs, etc., used in the manuscript. All manuscripts must have all of this information.

Each author must disclose at the time of submission any commercial associations or financial disclosures that might pose or create a conflict of interest with information presented in any submitted manuscript. Such associations include consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interests, patent licensing arrangements, and payments for conducting or publicizing a study described in the manuscript. Authors must disclose any funding received for this work from any of the following organizations: National Institutes of Health (NIH); Wellcome Trust; Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI); and other(s). This information will be printed with the article.

Much of this policy is adapted from the article “Authorship and Medical Ghostwriting: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Policy” (Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 127: 2496, 2011). Please review this article for more information, definitions and assistance.


The discussion or video discussion of a manuscript represents the opinion of the author and does not reflect the official stance of the Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Board, American Society of Plastic Surgeons or Lippincott Wilkins and Williams (WKH).

The goal of the Discussion is to enrich an article by presenting information and perspective based on the experience of the Discussant, who may agree or disagree with an author’s hypothesis, methodology, discussion, or conclusions.

If discussions are written by members of the peer review panel for a manuscript, discussants are barred from including comments about any version of the manuscript other than the final, accepted version. Information gathered, opinions formed, or details recalled from previous versions of the manuscript  along the editorial process are NOT allowed to inform the content of the discussion. Previous versions of the manuscript are privately shared with peer reviewers and are not intended for public dissemination.

Duplicate Publication

Manuscripts containing original material are accepted for consideration if neither the article nor any part of its essential substance, tables, or figures has been or will be published or submitted elsewhere before appearing in the Journal (in part or in full, in other words or in the same words, in English or in another language), and will not be submitted elsewhere unless rejected by the Journal or withdrawn by the author. Simultaneous submissions of the same article to multiple journals are prohibited. If an author violates this requirement or engages in similar misconduct, the Journal’s Editorial Board may reject the manuscript or impose a moratorium on acceptance of new manuscripts from the author. If it deems the misconduct sufficiently serious, the Editorial Board can refer the matter for investigation to the author’s academic institution or hospital, to the appropriate state or local disciplinary body, and/or to the Ethics Committee of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

A letter of permission is required for any and all material that has been published previously or is “in press” by another journal. It is the responsibility of the author to request permission from the publisher for any material that is being reproduced. This requirement applies to text, illustrations, and tables. These permissions must be supplied to the Journal upon submission of the article, along with ample acknowledgement of the original source of the materials in the legend and/or text.

To reiterate, any previously published material (including material published in foreign-language, open access, or e-journals) that is included in a submission to Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery needs to:

a) Clearly reference the original publication of the previously published material.

b) Be accompanied by a letter of permission from the copyright holder of the material. Any fee associated with permission to reuse previously published material is the responsibility of the author of the manuscript.

 If an author submits an article to Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery that contains material to which he or she holds the copyright (figures, material from articles published on open-access or e-journals, and so on), he or she needs to clearly indicate that he or she holds the copyright and provide Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery with written permission to use the previously copyrighted material.

All permission statements allowing Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to publish previously published material must extend to all print and digital media (so that material can be both printed and placed on the Journal’s website) and must not include any time limitations.

The Journal’s online submission system, Editorial Manager, employs an automated plagiarism/duplicate publication program called “CrossCheck.” As such, we use this program strategically to help us discover instances of misconduct at the earliest stages of manuscript submission.

More information on Dual Publication and PRS’ schedule of penalties for dual publication, can be found in the article “Plagiarism and Dual Publication: Review of the Issues and Policy Statement”.

Plagiarism and Fabrication

Plagiarism is when an author passes off the work of someone else as his or her own. This can also include self-plagiarism, which happens when an author reuses portions of his or her previously published work without the proper references. Manuscripts containing plagiarized content will not be considered for publication in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

All authors need to take responsibility for their manuscripts. If your name is on a manuscript, make sure all of the material in the paper either is original or is properly cited and has proper permission to be reproduced. If you have a question about the originality of any part of a manuscript, verify it with your coauthors. Senior authors should pay special attention to what the junior authors are doing and where they are sending their manuscripts.

If you realize you have made an error of dual publication or plagiarism inadvertently, proactively contact the editorial office. It is much better to come forward of your own volition than to have an accusation made against you.

If the Journal learns of a case of plagiarism after publication, the Journal will conduct an investigation. If plagiarism is found, the author, the author’s institution and funding agencies, and the original publication will be notified. A statement noting the plagiarism, providing a reference to the plagiarized material, and linking to the original to the original paper may follow. Depending on the extent of the plagiarism, the paper may also be formally retracted.

The Journal’s online submission system, Editorial Manager, employs an automated plagiarism/duplicate publication program called “Cross Check.” As such, we use this program strategically to help us discover instances of misconduct at the earliest stages of manuscript submission.

More information on Plagiarism, and PRS’ schedule of penalties for plagiarism, can be found in the article “Plagiarism and Dual Publication: Review of the Issues and Policy Statement”.

Image Integrity

Illustrations should be labeled clearly. Illustrations should be arranged symmetrically, in either “portrait” or “landscape” orientation. Before-and-after photographs should be identical in terms of size, position, and lighting. All illustrations must be accompanied by figure legends, to be attached at the end of the manuscript.

No photographs, digital or otherwise, should be substantively modified.

Graphics altering programs can be used to assemble multi-panel images, clean up dust specs from scanning in originals, and cropping. However, these programs should not be used improperly to attempt to modify results. Tools such as “clone stamping” can often be detected due to a trail of “smudged” skin tone. There is zero tolerance for abusing digital photo editing software to change the appearance of clinical results.

Photographs must be taken with appropriate lighting and must be clearly in focus.

Conflict of Interest

All sources of funds supporting the work and a statement of financial interest, if any, must be included for each author of a manuscript, along with a list of all products, devices, drugs, etc. used in the manuscript. All manuscripts must have this information. Each author is required at the time of submission to disclose any commercial associations or financial disclosures that might pose or create a conflict of interest with information presented in any submitted manuscript. Such associations include any of the following: consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest, patent licensing arrangements, payments for conduction or publicizing a study described in the manuscript, royalty recipient, grant recipient, employee, board member and review panel member. Authors must disclose any funding received for this work from any of the following organizations: National Institutes of Health (NIH); Wellcome Trust; Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI); and other(s). This information will be printed with the article.

Bioethics & Clinical Trial Registration

Human and Animal Studies
Experimental studies on humans must include  a statement that the study was approved by an Institutional Review  Board (IRB) or ethics committee and that the subjects gave informed consent. Such approval should be described in the Methods section of the manuscript. In addition, for studies conducted with human subjects, the method by which informed consent was obtained from the participants (i.e., verbal or written) must be stated in the Methods section. Any systematic data gathering effort in patients or volunteers must be approved by an IRB or adhere to appropriate local/national regulations.

In situations where a formal IRB process is not available, the authors must indicate that the principles outlined in the Declaration of Helsinki have been followed. More information regarding the Declaration of Helsinki can be found at http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/b3/index.html

Experimental work on animals must conform to the guidelines laid out in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, which is available from the National Academy of Science; a text-only version is available at http://www.nap.edu/readingroom/books/labrats/. Adherence to all relevant regulations and/or approval of the appropriate institutional Animal Care Committee or governmental licensure of the investigator and/or laboratory must be obtained. A statement concerning such approval must be included at the beginning of the Methods section.

Registering Clinical Trials
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery requires that all articles reporting results of clinical trials be registered in a public trials registry that is in conformity with the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE). All clinical trials, regardless of when they were completed, and secondary analyses of original clinical trials should be registered before submission of a manuscript based on the trial. Phase I trials designed to study pharmacokinetics or major toxicity are exempt. Registering your trial is easy, free of charge, and helps promote science among a wide range of researchers.

Manuscripts reporting on clinical trials (as defined above) should indicate that the trials are registered and include the registry information on a separate page, immediately following the authors’ financial disclosure information. Required registry information includes trial registry name, registration identification number, and the URL for the registry.

Trials should be registered in one of the following trial registries:

More information on registering clinical trials can be found in the following article: Rohrich RJ, Longaker MT. Registering clinical trials in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2007;119(3):1097-1099 {insert link to : http://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/Citation/2007/03000/Registering_Clinical_Trials_in_Plastic_and.47.aspx}

Compliance with NIH and Other Research Funding Agency Accessibility Requirements

A number of research funding agencies now require or request authors to submit the accepted manuscript (after peer review and acceptance but not the final published article) to a repository accessible online. As a service to our authors, the Publisher will identify to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) articles that require deposit and will transmit the accepted manuscript  based on research funded in whole or in part by the National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust, Howard Hughes Medical Institute to PubMed Central.

Patient Consent for Identification in Photos, Videos, etc.

If patients in photographs or videos are identifiable, authors must obtain and provide to the Journal at the time of submission written consent from the patients.  A standardized patient authorization form for the release of patient photographs and videos may be obtained from the Editorial Office or on-line at: www.PRSJournal.com or at PRS’ enkwell at: http://www.editorialmanager.com/prs/. If an author chooses to use his or her own version for patient authorization, the form must include permission to use photographs for all types of media including but not limited to the following: print, visual, electronic, or broadcast media. Also, details in text that might identify patients, including but not limited to names, initials, and hospital numbers, must not be used unless essential for scientific purposes.  If identification of patients is unavoidable, informed consents from the patients must be obtained.

  • Patient authorization and permission is needed to reproduce any photograph of a patient's face or identifiable body part. An identifiable tattoo on an otherwise unidentifiable body part effectively identifies the patient; patient permissions are required for these patients too. Photographs with bars placed over the eyes of patients are not allowed in place of patient authorization and permission.
  • If "deidentification" by sufficient cropping of a patient’s features is not possible, the authors need to obtain authorization and consent from the patient. If the patient cannot be located or refused to provide consent and authorization, the photograph must not be included in the manuscript submission.
  • In the event that the patient cannot provide consent due to death or legal incompetency (this includes photographs of corpses), permission from the power of attorney is needed as well as proof of power of attorney.

Embargo Policy

Any content submitted to the Journal must not be discussed with the media until the paper has published (online or in print, whichever occurs first). The Journal reserves the right to halt the consideration or publication of a paper if this policy is broken. If your paper is newsworthy, you may recommend a press release to the Editor or Editorial Office. You or your institution may also arrange for your own publicity; however you must strictly adhere to the Journal’s embargo policy and are advised to notify the Editorial Office if you or your institution chooses to conduct a press release.

Correction and Retraction Policy

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery takes full responsibility to correct errors as they occur. Content that is published online or in an issue is considered the final published record and must be preserved; therefore all changes to articles must be made as a formal correction. Corrections will be published online and in the next available issue and will be bi-directionally linked to the original article.  These corrections will then be picked up by Ovid and transmitted to PubMed and other aggregating databases.

Corrections will be reviewed and considered if they affect the publication record, the scientific integrity of the paper, or the reputation of the authors, or of the journal.  Corrections that do not significantly affect the paper may not be approved (i.e. a spelling error).

Retractions will be considered if results are invalid or ethical guidelines have been violated (i.e. applicable cases of plagiarism or ghostwriting). All coauthors must sign a retraction detailing the error and how the conclusions were affected.

All decisions about corrections or retractions are made by the Editor. Author consultation may be required. In situations where coauthors disagree about a correction, the Editors will consult with independent peer-reviewers before applying the appropriate correction. The dissenting author(s) position will be noted on the correction.