Saturday, December 22, 2018

About Frontiers

Frontiers is getting a lot of critique at this moment, about very low rejection rates (only ~10%), reviewers who seemingly cannot reject articles, the use of the impact factor (sad), their almost pyramid-like gaming of recruiting editors, reviewers, etc are questionable to me (focused on continuous growth of literature, which we must not want), and perhaps most important, questionable lobbying around Plan S. Also, they are just expensive and I see little real publishing innovation.

For Marvin Martens' paper we received fair quality reviewers. But with the above points in mind, retrospectively, I want to comment. For this paper we had a reviewer that withdrew, and while they provided feedback, we could not directly reply to this reviewer, and we had to direct our replies and updates based on those reviews to the editor instead.

But I note that the the "major + withdrew + minor" we received could just as well have been (my personal interpretation based on the reviewers' comments) a "major + reject + minor". The third review was based on our revision and we took into account the reviews of both the major and reject review. For me as editor, a "major + reject" often results in a "back to the drawing board" decision. For this paper we were lucky, and the reject was mostly about the excellent note by the reviewer that our article was wrongly submitted as a review article, which we corrected (should have been "Hypothesis and Theory" for a positioning paper).

I'll carefully monitor where Frontiers is going, but their prominent use of the impact factor and the intention to keep increasing the volume of journal article literature alone is reason enough for me to not quickly consider them again. We have a second paper under review with Frontiers, but I will have a moratorium on Frontiers until further notice.

BTW, if you like to see journals publish their rejection rates, please RT this tweet: