Take it all in

February 11, 2016

In the article on how higher selectivity of research papers fails to increase impact, Pascal Rocha da Silva, process strategy manager at open access publisher Frontiers, writes that a rejection rate of up to 30 per cent is justifiable, to “ensure only sound research is published” (“High rejection rates by journals ‘pointless’”, News, 28 January).

So far, Frontiers has not made its own rejection rate official. In a recent interview with Richard Poynder, CEO Kamila Markram stated a rejection rate of “around 19 per cent”. She insists that editors act independently from publisher’s interference. My information, however, shows that they are highly constrained by rules and editorial contracts at Frontiers, which make manuscript rejections rather cumbersome.

Frontiers’ publishing process is streamlined towards accepting as many submissions as possible. Authors of a submitted manuscript are free to choose the handling associate editor themselves, who is then automatically assigned. As a result, editors and reviewers are occasionally admitted who are total outsiders from the field, lack academic qualifications or stand in a conflict of interest with authors. On the other hand, associate editors complain of being worn down by recurrent rounds of revisions, during which they feel pressured to cave in and click “accept”. Only the chief editor is entitled to reject a submission or to revoke an inappropriate handling editor at a Frontiers journal. It seems, however, that some chief editors are often either unaware of their own editorial processes or are not interested in preventing papers of questionable scientific quality from being published. This is why Frontiers has accepted articles on the supernatural and parapsychology, and a certain nonsense paper that they still refuse to retract. Finally, after the mass sacking of the medical chief editors, the journal Frontiers in Medicine has been operating without an editor-in-chief for many months. It nevertheless published a number of papers while there was officially hardly anyone in the position to reject manuscripts.

Leonid Schneider
Independent science journalist


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Construction workers erecting barriers

Directly linking non-EU recruitment to award levels in teaching assessment has also been under consideration, sources suggest