Intellectual Fascism

I have been Co-Editor-in-Chief of Cureus for about three years and in this time I’ve learned a lot about how peer-reviewed journals function. It’s often said that in water polo the real game happens beneath the surface of the water. Similarly with journals, sometimes the serious action goes on behind the scenes. From its inception, Cureus was designed to minimize the role of politics in scientific publishing by way of its post-publication SIQ scoring process. Despite these ambitions, politics have occasionally crept into our efforts to publish great medical science. So it was with one recent article, and boy did the Cureus editorial staff learn a lot through this experience!

The article in question was written by several very accomplished clinical neuroscientists and involved a complex intersection of multiple scientific fields. Despite being evaluated by three reviewers, a clear error was noted in the published article by a reader; the error was of a political nature and not scientific in the least, but still an unambiguous error. An erratum was being prepared when a big hullabaloo broke loose in social media. Two individuals, whose specialty overlapped the erroneous article, attacked the article for its political misstatement, and by extension, Cureus’ journalistic integrity for missing this error during our pre-publication review process.

I immediately invited these critics to set the record straight via our liberal comment and scoring processes, but in a series of personal (and necessarily confidential) emails, the critics refused, insisting on remaining anonymous. Over the next several days they recruited a chorus of similarly-minded colleagues who insisted that the article in question represented serious scientific misconduct and demanded it be retracted… period! In light of these demands, Cureus, by virtue of its status as a peer-reviewed journal, was obligated to investigate under ICJME (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) guidelines.

I personally oversaw the investigation, which started by recruiting seven truly world-class domain experts, who after reading both the original and the proposed corrected manuscripts, were to advise me; I deliberately included a couple of researchers suggested by the critics of the article. In parallel, I stumbled upon the existence of a listserv community of likeminded researchers including the two critics, whose major modus operandi is to fiercely act en-mass, hyena-like, oftentimes via social media, when certain partisan political issues arise, such as the article Cureus had unwittingly published.

If ever I witnessed intellectual fascism, this was it; the only thing missing was a goose-stepping mustached man. However, this was also to be a moment of truth for our young journal. Pending the advice of the seven domain experts, would Cureus stand up for open scientific discourse? Or would we join the ranks of cowering researchers?

After almost one month of analysis by the aforementioned unimpeachable panel of experts, some of whom are at the very pinnacle of their respective fields, it was determined that the Cureus article had erred badly (yet seemingly inadvertently) in misstating a political reality. However, the science itself was credible. As a result, an erratum addressing the erroneous facts was published and the original article retracted.

Ultimately this experience reminds me, and by virtue of this blog should remind all readers, that standing up for open and honest scientific discussion, devoid as much as possible from political considerations, is a constant struggle even in our supposedly democratic world. In fact I invite the very critics of the article in question to now publish their own scientific concepts with Cureus, which perhaps might even refute the published paper. The function of journals is not to anoint “scientific truths,” but to provide a forum for scientific truths to be discovered, and refuted.

We at Cureus are especially fortunate to have such a liberal post-publication comment and scoring system. This process, which is available to everyone, is intended to provide a voice for even the most contrarian scientific ideas. The power of the Cureus community-at-large remains a great potential strength. Please don’t be afraid. Step up and use it!

In Response to Allegations Concerning Internet Medical Society

Allegations were recently leveled against, an organization affiliated with one of our channel partners, Internet Medical Society. We take such matters very seriously. We have conducted a thorough investigation and we’re here to share our thoughts on this situation as we move forward.

After considering the allegations and speaking at length with the IMS channel administrator, Manuel Menendez, we can state that we believe in the sincerity of IMS’s ambition to publish credible medical scientific articles. While the accusations are certainly nothing to take lightly, we feel confident that work being submitted to Cureus via the IMS channel is of suitable quality and repute. Furthermore, via our wholly unique post-publication review and scoring system, Cureus is in a unique position to uncover fraudulent and illegitimate science, as we actively encourage our community to examine and review articles long after they’ve passed through peer review.

It is worth reminding all readers of scientific publications to always interpret the content with a skeptical eye, whether the article is published in Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine or Cureus. Healthy skepticism is always at the heart of science. It is only through the lens of time that scientific ideas can be truly validated, which is why we at Cureus advocate for our process of post-publication review via SIQ.

As a result, Cureus will continue to host the Internet Medical Society channel and looks forward to the channel’s continued success. As has been the case since our launch in 2011, Cureus will not tolerate plagiarism or illegitimate or untoward publication practices and will remain ever-watchful for any signs of potential transgressions.

Banished From Cureus: Introducing a New Cureus Editorial Policy

Founded with the belief that far too many credible physician and allied medical specialists are disenfranchised by a publishing system driven largely by money and academic promotion, Cureus has, from its inception, bent over backwards to remove barriers to medical publication. Whenever possible, we have always tried to give each author the benefit of doubt throughout the entire review and publishing cycle. In the process of being so liberally minded, however, Cureus has attracted a handful of prospective authors that seek to take advantage of our generosity. In particular this group of authors has either failed to read closely Cureus’ author instructions or chosen to not follow its unambiguous dictates. This is especially apparent in the areas of copy editing and formatting, for even the simplest little requirements, such as bracketing reference citations.

Why is this handful of authors so sloppy? Maybe having been schooled in the practices of other journals they assume some faceless (yet compensated) copy editing team will clean up their carelessness? Of course other journals will clean up your articles, but it’s going to cost you; for such copy editing services an author must give up either all copyrights or pay many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for open access. One might think the generosity of Cureus’ follow-the-rules “self-serve” model for publishing, which on average requires about 30 minutes of extra work, would be appropriately valued by all authors. Sadly this is not always the case.

Therefore, Cureus has hereby implemented a new policy of banning (“blocking”) an article from any chance of being published, regardless of the quality of science, if an author fails (for whatever reason) to twice submit a manuscript that complies with our clearly published author guidelines. Moreover any author that submits two unique articles that fall short in this way will be forever banished from Cureus. There are plenty of other journals that are happy to copyedit sloppy work. Authors who produce such manuscripts are invited to send their articles to those publishers.

In Cureus’ community of trust and mutual respect, there is no room for users who fail to follow the rules. But if you are among the vast majority of users who comply with our guidelines, I promise that you will be amply rewarded for your consideration and cooperation. Thank you.

Cureus has been accepted for indexing in PubMed Central!

We are pleased to announce that Cureus has been accepted for indexing in PubMed Central® (PMC) (with citations added to PubMed). PMC is a free full-text archive of biomedical and life science journal literature operated by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

We know how much our authors value PMC indexing. Knowing your published article has been indexed should result in relief and validation that your work will be available for the medical community to discover, read, discuss and cite.

Cureus indexed in PMC

Since the start of the year, we’ve published nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles documenting clinical experience and medical research from around the world. All of these articles can now be found in PMC (and their citations in PubMed), and we’re looking forward to the continued expansion of the Cureus library of peer-reviewed literature. Going forward, all articles published in Cureus will be indexed in PMC within one month of publication.

Thank you for your continued support of Cureus. This is a big step for our journal and we’re looking forward to more articles and more readers in the coming months. Please contact us at with any questions.

Note (8/19/15): We’ve recently discovered that although articles published within Cureus are cited within PubMed, this does not constitute formal indexing. This blog post has been updated to reflect this distinction.

Announcing a New Editorial Policy Regarding Submission Quality

Cureus operates a free, merit-based publication system, in which we publish all articles that satisfy our requirements and contain no fraudulent or dangerous science. It is therefore the responsibility of the submitting author to meet us halfway by submitting an article draft that meets all listed requirements. Over the past several months, we’ve noticed an influx of submissions containing sloppy and careless work, much of it concerning figures and references. We’re a small team with limited editorial resources and, in exchange for offering free publication, we expect our authors to submit work that meets our requirements. (Requirements that are still quite streamlined compared to other journals, such as PeerJ.)

That is why, effective immediately, authors will have only two chances to submit a draft meeting all Cureus publishing requirements (as detailed below). Submitting an unacceptable draft will result in an editor-issued deferral. Once deferred, the author will be tasked with revising the article based on editor instructions before resubmitting.

If a second deferral follows (due to the author failing to follow editor instructions), the article draft will no longer be eligible for peer review (and publication within Cureus). This only applies to deferrals before peer review. Post peer review deferrals will not be counted against the author.

Additionally, if a submitting author has two drafts ruled permanently ineligible, as described above, he or she will no longer be permitted to publish in Cureus.

We pledge to work closely with all of our submitting authors to avoid such a scenario, but unfortunately we’ve reached a point where we must institute stricter submission enforcement due to the many poorly formatted and incomplete drafts we are receiving.

If you have concerns or questions regarding this change, please reach out to us at and a Cureus team member will get back to you ASAP.

Optimizing for Mobile Users: Cureus Rolls Out Responsive Design

Roughly 25% of our community accesses Cureus via a mobile or tablet device. We’re not in the business of ignoring our users, which is why we’re happy to announce our new responsive design rollout. What is responsive design? To put it in plain terms, a responsive webpage will look great no matter how large or small your screen. When viewed on a phone (or even just a small browser window on your laptop), the page design will rearrange itself to give you, the reader, the best viewing experience. (For a more detailed response, check out this great piece by John Polacek.)

Desktop view (left) vs. Mobile view (right)
Desktop view (left) vs. Mobile view (right)

Since submitting an article draft doesn’t translate well to mobile (and really, who wants to do all of that on their phone?), this will remain a non-responsive process, designed to be completed on a desktop or laptop computer. Reading and scoring articles, posters and abstracts, however, is a perfect fit for our mobile and tablet users – and it just became easier than ever with our newly released page designs.

Quickly hop into an article on your phone with no need to resize the page or struggle with small buttons or text. Now you can read, score and share whenever you have a moment. We know how busy you are – perhaps your evening train commute is the best time for you to be active in the Cureus community. Or maybe you prefer to check out the latest published articles while relaxing in your yard. Whatever the case may be, you’ll be able to do it on your phone or tablet.

We’ll be making more pages responsive just as soon as we can – so stay tuned for more updates! Questions or comments? Shoot us an email at

Calling All Academic Departments: It’s Time to Share Your Hard Work With the World

Close your eyes and picture the following (it probably won’t be difficult):

Your academic department is full of hard-working researchers and practicing physicians. Cutting edge research and innovative clinical experiences are everywhere. Trusted veteran physicians and up-and-coming stars are working together. All of your department’s faculty and residents know that their collective work is making a difference. Worthy of praise, funding and patient referrals.

But does anyone else know?

By partnering with Cureus you can ensure that fellow physicians around the world are updated on the latest and greatest from your department. All Cureus channel partners receive their very own branded, quarterly email digests that are managed and sent by Cureus.

Featuring hand-picked, recently published articles from your department as well as author head shots, a Cureus quarterly digest is an excellent way to raise awareness surrounding your department, boost the profile of up-and-coming faculty and even gain patient referrals.

We invite each of our channel partners to customize their quarterly’s messaging to fit their department’s unique goals. With thousands of recipients and sky-high open and click rates, we’re confident that a Cureus quarterly digest is the best value for your department’s marketing budget. Take a look at the examples below, and contact us at to learn how your department can reach physicians and researchers around the world.

Note: partial view of quarterly digest.
Note: partial view of quarterly digest.
Note: partial view of quarterly digest.
Note: partial view of quarterly digest.