Moving beyond Frontiers

I have been considering this for a while, here is one new year’s resolutions for 2017: Moving beyond Frontiers. There’s lots of evidence that we should not take Frontiers seriously (anymore?) as a scientific publisher.

Frontiers is on Beal’s list of predatory publishers, which is pretty bad in itself (as is the fact that Frontiers apparently tried to intimidate Beal).

What really ticks me off though is that Frontiers has a history of publishing pseudoscientific articles on paranormal effects. The first time I came across was with an article in the Research Topic “Non-ordinary mental expressions” on “predictive anticipatory activity“. However, there are more cases like this. Now, recently, Frontiers published a study claiming that people considering themselves a psychic medium can tell from looking at a picture whether the person on the picture is diseased. I don’t want to go into the details, but in summary I share neuroskeptic’s assessment of the article. The problems with Frontier’s were also charmingly summarized by Mark Humphries.

Of course, this does not mean that papers in Frontiers are all wrong or bad science. I published in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience in 2008 and have even edited a Research Topic on neural data analysis in Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience in 2009. I stand by the results of my article (which have been independently replicated) and we did our best as editors to ensure rigorous peer-review (in contrast to what sometimes happens at Frontiers). Similarly, I believe there are many other solid articles in Frontiers journals and for some disciplines, it is not easy to find good alternatives.

Nevertheless, my lab will not send any articles to Frontiers journal in the future, nor will I review for Frontiers. I have greyed out my articles published in Frontiers journals in my publication list. I am doing this because we as scientists need to take a stand against the flood of poor science being done and published with the help of outlets such as Frontiers. Initially, Frontiers was a great experiment, but that apparently at some point went wrong – from revolutionizing publishing (like PLoS or eLife) to printing money.


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