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Ask PLoS Medicine: Can I republish a figure from another journal in PLoS Medicine?

If the figure is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CCAL), then an author does not need to obtain permission to republish it in PLoS Medicine. When the paper that contains the figure in question is nearing acceptance, we’ll just request the author confirm that the figure is indeed available under CCAL and that’ll be it.

If the figure is not licensed under the CCAL, then the author needs to request permission from the copyright holder to republish it in PLoS Medicine. To do this, an author must make the copyright holder of the figure aware of the following three points:

  1. All PLoS Medicine content is published under the CCAL.
  2. Under the CCAL, authors retain ownership of the copyright for their articles, figures, tables, etc, but allow anyone to download, reuse, reprint, modify, distribute, and/or copy this content as long as the original authors and source are cited.
  3. Even though PLoS Medicine is a non-profit, under the CCAL, PLoS Medicine content can be reused for profit without permission.

After these points have been relayed, the author must provide us with an email from the copyright holder that reads:

I, [copyright owner’s name], give [corresponding author’s name] permission to republish [name of figure (i.e. Figure 1)], taken from [source 1=”title” 2=”of” 3=”paper,” 4=”website,” 5=”etc)” language=”(i.e.”][/source], in PLoS Medicine under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

The copyright holder does not need to type up the above statement them self. The author can do this and send it to the copyright holder asking them to agree. This correspondence can then be provided to PLoS Medicine as proof of permission to republish.

If you have any questions regarding republishing figures, please ask them by commenting on this blog post and we’ll get back to you with the answer.

  1. If I have an article in PLoS and it was selected to be a cover article, in the sense that we submitted an image that did not appear in the manuscript, but does appear on the PLoS website, can I use that image in another manuscript for another journal? In other words, did I give up the copyright for that image?

    I have the same question for figures that I used in the actual PLoS manuscript?

    Many thanks.

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