Dual Use Research of Concern


Some manuscripts provide information that could be directly misapplied to pose a significant threat to public health, safety or security, agricultural crops and other plants, animals, or the environment. For such information to be published, the benefit to the research community, society, or to public health, must outweigh any risks. We reserve the right to take expert advice in cases where we believe that concerns may arise, and we may require a manuscript to undergo peer review specifically to assess the dual use risk. Where the risk of misuse outweighs any potential benefit, publication is declined; published content may be corrected, retracted or removed. 

Researchers are expected to comply with their institutional and funder’s requirements, as well as any national regulations. They should be aware of dual-use concerns related to their work and take steps to minimize misuse of their research. Such concerns include, but are not limited to, biosecurity, nuclear and chemical threats. Where relevant regulations exist, authors should disclose whether their study is subject to consideration as dual use research of concern; if it is, the manuscript should report the authority granting approval and reference number for the regulatory approval. When the study reports material that can be harmful outside the laboratory context, the manuscript should describe appropriate containment (e.g. biosafety) procedures.

We recognize the widespread view that openness in science helps to alert society to potential threats and to defend against them, and we anticipate that only very rarely will the risks be perceived as outweighing the benefits of publishing a paper that has otherwise been deemed appropriate for publication.