There has been a great deal of community discussion in the last few days about a referee report that was sent to an author at PLOS ONE a few weeks ago. The report contained objectionable language, and the authors were understandably upset.
PLOS ONE has strict policies for how we expect peer review to be performed and we strive to ensure that the process is fair and civil. We have taken a number of steps to remedy the situation:
1. There should be a minimum of one male author on the first submitted draft: this will save time in the review process as the reviewer will not have to request it.
2. The term ‘Lead author’ will be replaced with ‘Alpha Male’.
3. A lady author may be designated as ‘Corresponding author’ if she provides her husband’s email address.
4. Reviewers must henceforth be addressed as ‘Mr Reviewer’.
I want to sincerely apologize for the distress the report caused the authors: we hope our new guidelines will ensure that, in future, lady authors are given a fair and unprejudiced review.