Rapid or vapid?

Someone recently asked me what I thought about the open access journal Molecular Metabolism. I had just delivered a short talk to a group of researchers as a reminder about our open access policy and what my team could do to help them make sure their research was published open access.

Well, I didn’t think anything about Molecular Metabolism as I had never come across it before. In case you wondered, it’s been going since 2012 and has been published monthly for the past 2 years and more, so it seems to be reasonably well-established. Over that time it’s published about 350 articles, some of them having modest citation impact but nothing earth-shattering.  It’s not exciting in any way, but it seems an entirely worthy publishing venue. It is supported by the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) and the Helmholtz Diabetes Centre so it has roots in the diabetes and metabolism research community. And it’s published by Elsevier as a fully OA journal.

On the journal’s website it describes itself as

a platform reporting breakthroughs from all stages of the discovery and development of novel and improved personalized medicines for obesity, diabetes and associated diseases.

As well as being an OA journal it has adopted a rapid publication model.  Its peer review instructions require reviews to be delivered in 72 hours. Reviewers are asked only to accept, reject, or suggest minor revisions.

My enquirer outlined this rapid process and asked what I thought. It seemed a good model to me. It’s not a high grade journal, so long rounds of manuscript revision would be a waste of everyone’s time. The option to reject papers is still there.

My enquirer had been invited to review an article submitted to the journal. His response was that the journal must be a scam. He viewed their rapid review policy as an invitation to reviewers to accept substandard papers. My sense was that he was also implying a Bohannonian subtext of “and all OA journals must be rubbish, innit?”.  I suspect he has the same view about PLOS ONE.

This little exchange gave me more information about the person asking the question than about the journal he enquired of. It seems a shame that in some quarters OA, and the idea of the ‘sound science’ peer review is still regarded with such suspicion.

About Frank Norman

I am a retired librarian. I spent 40 years working in biomedical research libraries.
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