Naturalproductman’s Blog

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Random Discussion: Subjectivity of Journal Submissions

Posted by naturalproductman on June 28, 2014

Here’s an unusual thought here that I never really considered until recently but it is worth taking note:  why is Science, Nature, and Cell still such a high impact factor? Let me briefly explain the Science editorial process when they receive a paper. Step 1: Researcher submits a paper, editor office gets it. Step 2: Editor does a prescreen before even sending it to reviewers (real scientists) and determines if it is good enough to be in Science or not.

I read this rejection letter from one of the editors and it was stated in the last paragraph that:

“Papers are selected on the basis of discipline, novelty, and general significance, in addition to the usual criteria for publication in specialized journals. Therefore, our decision is not necessarily a reflection of the quality of your research but rather of our stringent space limitations.”

The paper didn’t make it through Step 2. I have a problem with Step 2. Reading the editor’s name this letter is affiliated to, one can do a pubmed search and find out if this person has a good enough background that is suitable to judge whether the paper is truly good enough for Science journal or not.

I can say that after looking at the background of the editor, they probably were not even qualified to understand that the paper was good enough. One can argue however that if it’s truly good science anybody could say that it is interesting. But from looking at today’s Science research articles that get published, I’m not really that impressed with the content. I mean yes, it is Science journal with an impact factor of over 30, but still, when the editor has a mere 11 publication (of them, none are in Science except for the editorial articles they have written), would you think that this person is qualified to judge if a paper is good enough for Science or not?

On the other hand, if you look at other journals, such as ACIE or JACS or Biochemistry or JBC. These journals actually have professors, who run their own labs and are still publishing as the editors. These are scientists who are doing research currently and are up to date with the exciting world of science.

Maybe this is just a bitter rant from someone who feels rejected, but still, I think I may have a point here. I do not mean to completely offend the qualifications of the editorial board of Science magazine but there is a big difference between these journals with impact factor over 30 and other top tier journals, which have editors, who run labs and are involved in actual experimentation and practicing actual science. I hope someone can enlighten me if I am incorrect.







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