Since When is “Fast and Efficient” a Shortcoming?

This past winter, I was notified in a short email that a scientific journal directory intended to drop Cureus from its list of preferred Open Access journals. No matter how specious any claim to exclusivity might be, who doesn’t crave getting past the big burly doorman guarding “The Club”? I reached out to this burly “Editor-in-Chief” of a “fraternity of journals” asking him how and why he arrived at his decision. After six email requests over nearly five months, I finally received a terse three-sentence 72-word response. In the eyes of the “Editor-in-Chief”, Cureus’ primary shortcoming was “submission to publication times are extremely short and you advertise your speed.” Basically, as I interpret this email rejection, Cureus’ sin is that it’s just too damn fast and efficient. Ahh… yeah, I guess Cureus is guilty as charged.

What am I, or any of us here to make of this criticism? Totally dumfounded, I sent my parting shot to the doorman: “I find it more than ironic that the unique attributes of Cureus which we the journal editors most celebrate as virtues, are antithetically interpreted as shortcomings.” Ultimately, the issue at hand here is not really just about an indexing service and its gatekeeper. For me, what’s really at stake is a common understanding of the role medical knowledge plays in our modern world and, most importantly, does the existing journal paradigm serve this function?

Unfortunately, I suggest not. In fact, the obliviousness with which the doorman dismissed efficient journal peer review and publication is emblematic of what happens today at nearly all journals. All too typically the journal industry is run by a self-righteous professional editorial class which seeks to reinforce tradition and aristocracy at the expense of efficiency and low costs, while laughing all the way to the bank. A quick search of PubMed and Google revealed that our critic had published a modest collection of basic science articles and nearly all published in the past decade were about scholarly publishing itself. Yet even more telling, he had zero obvious experience in clinical medicine. Somehow this guy deemed himself anointed by some unknown entity to judge how we physicians generate, curate and disseminate potentially life-saving medical knowledge amongst ourselves. What entitles him to be such a judge?

Sure, it is always nice to be part of “The Club”, but ultimately, I would much rather be appreciated as THE peer-reviewed journal that offers fast and cost-efficient service to our community of hardworking clinically-oriented authors. If Cureus is to be judged, I want it to be our user community that gets the last word. In the meantime, I intend Cureus’ technology and processes to improve relentlessly thereby making the process of peer review and publication in Cureus even faster. Hopefully you can bank on that, Mr. Doorman!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s