Mulitgrain Discussion: PubMed, F1000 Research, Peer Review and the question of standards

A number of you may have read Information Today‘s article  F1000Research Launches Following Successful Beta-Testing Phase reporting the successful launch of F1000Research’s new Open Science publishing program for life scientists.  According to the article this new publishing platform offers “researchers for the first time immediate publication, transparent and fast peer-review post-publication, and full data deposition and sharing.”  In addition, the article claims that  F1000Research has received “extensive support from the scientific community during its 6-month beta-testing.”

However, not everyone is overjoyed!

Kent Anderson has posted an opinion piece in Scholarly Kitchen entitled  “PubMed and F1000 Research — Unclear Standards Applied Unevenly”  that claims that the already lenient standards required of many PubMed articles just got more lenient with “the admission of reports from a non-journal, F1000 Research.”  Kent takes particular aim at the F1000 Research version of  peer-review.  Evidently F1000 Research uses “ what they call “open” post-publication peer-review.”  However, Kent insists that this version of peer review “is really a cynical and confusing mélange of incomplete editorial practices.”  He goes on to say that “F1000 Research is focused on very different criteria than you might expect — namely, speed and citable objects…  They don’t care about quality or relevance, don’t have an editor, don’t call themselves a journal — they just provide authors with an academic chit as quickly as possible.”

Needless to say, these are pretty strong charges. Is Kent overstating his case or are his criticisms on target?  And if they are, should such publications be indexed in standard indexes like PubMed that scholars rely for access to quality research.  Is the scholarly enterprise undermined by such practices? Is there anything that can be done to limit the damage?

Or is this all a “tempest in a teapot”?  Aren’t most self-respecting scientists able to tell peer-reviewed from non-peer reviewed articles?  Shouldn’t we let the marketplace of ideas afforded by open peer review efforts like F1000 Research determine quality?

Obviously, these issues have broad implications for scholarly publishing so we’d love to know where you stand. Take some time, think about it, and then join the discussion.

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