Recently, one of my articles has been accepted in Frontiers. At first, I thought, Frontiers' journals are reputable and they acted like a reputable journal by just assigning an associate editor and then 2 reviewers to take care of my article. Last month, they sent the reviewers' comments. It was easy overall for both reviewers' comments. I sent the revised version and it got accepted. You know, Frontiers show the name of reviewers after that article is accepted. I checked the profile and research interests of both reviewers, but unfortunately none of them had any interest or published materials in the field of my article. Even one of them was from a really distant major that I study, which makes me think that their comments were easy cause they did not have any expertise in this field. Right now, I have a really bad feeling about it and want to know does it have any bad effect on me when someone looks at my article and see it got reviewed by some people without knowledge about this field? Any suggestion or recommendation is appreciated.


I used financial hardship ground to withdraw my article from publishing and thanks to not paying their publishing fee as well as not approving the proof version of article and not transferring copyright to Frontiers, it seems they accepted to withdraw my article. In fact, they act pretty much like a predatory journal. I checked several published or accepted articles in that particular journal: "Frontiers in Materials" and indeed it seems there is no connection between peer-reviewers background and the reviewed articles. Also, the interesting thing, which I'm not sure how to interpret, is that usually the peer-reviewers of their articles are from same country or even same university as authors that might introduce high chance of conflict of interests... Anyway, I have a plan to submit it in a more prestigious journal in my field (definitely not OA).

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    It might depend on the particular Frontiers journal. They got some initial flak early on for some predatory practices (mostly for spam requests for submissions), and they are certainly for-profit, but I've published there and so have many colleagues and I read and cite papers from Frontiers. The reviewers in my experience have had reasonable suggestions and I never felt like a paper just waltzed in there. There are other questions here asking about Frontiers journals for you to read through. – Bryan Krause Apr 24 '19 at 19:24
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    @BryanKrause, I have no opinion on the question at hand or on Frontiers, but will note that "for-profit" and "high quality" are not mutually exclusive. It is when the profit is more important than the quality that it becomes problematic. – Buffy Apr 24 '19 at 19:38
  • @Buffy I don't think my comment made any implication that they are mutually exclusive, but the charge levied against Frontiers by others is that they favor publishing over rejecting work due to a profit motive that may impinge on impartial review. An alternative view is that their open peer review system leads to more productive review and less grandstanding by reviewers. Judging which motive takes precedence is difficult. – Bryan Krause Apr 24 '19 at 19:43
  • @BryanKrause, just a warning to the readers not to conflate the two ideas. – Buffy Apr 24 '19 at 19:48
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    @AloneProgrammer Does the specific Frontiers journal you published in publish work you read and would cite? That's a better indicator than the impact factor. – Bryan Krause Apr 24 '19 at 23:33

The short answer is, you shouldn't be too worried, but you should make some deliberate choices with your next submissions.

As @BryanKrause mentions, the quality of Frontiers in depends on the specific journal. Some have better editors than others, who will/are able to recruit better reviewers, and therefore a better review/editorial process. In particular, I have heard Frontiers in Neuroscience maintains high standards.
Furthermore, 'special issues' are quite common, and in those cases the quality will depend on the specific editors of the issue. I have noticed in some cases, these special issues are used to create an 'easy' venue for a specific community to generate papers out of a workshop or symposium. In other cases, the special issues can be considered quite serious.

Overall, Frontiers in, and the open-access publishing model in general, is very young. They are also trying out some rather radical ideas for the review process. Many people will be skeptical for a while, regardless of the quality. Some will embrace it, and also have a better opinion of others who embrace it. My expectation is that in the long term, Frontiers (or some other open-access journals) will win out, but this will take some time.

As a consequence, I'd say it is unfortunate if you published your best work in a Frontiers in which isn't of the best quality. But if you have other publications in more established venues, it is unlikely to count against you with a future hiring committee. My advice is to make sure your next paper or two are in very established journals, after which it is up to you if you want to push the open-access model more again.

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    "I have heard Frontiers in Neuroscience maintains high standards." Not really. My work is partially related neuroscience and I read a lot of papers in Frontiers in Neuroscience and I could say those works have lower quality for example in comparison to American Journal of Neuroradiology. – Alone Programmer May 1 '19 at 14:32
  • That's too bad, since that's actually the only example I've heard very positive things about. Nonetheless, I do know good researchers who publish somewhat regularly in Frontiers, and I also know people who have advised me against publishing good work in Frontiers, yet some of their most cited papers are in Frontiers. – Steve Heim May 2 '19 at 7:17
  • I think the problem of Frontiers journals generally is that reviewers do not have enough experience in papers that they are assigned to review. I'm not sure there is a intention to choose reviewers in this way but usually reviewers do not have any published material in that particular field of papers that they are trying to review. One example was my paper that reviewers had nothing to do with my field at all and another one was an article from my PhD adviser that is published in Frontiers in Physiology, which is full of errors because reviewers did not have any expertise in that field. – Alone Programmer May 2 '19 at 13:50
  • I've heard this comment before. I've also heard of at least one case where a colleague got excellent reviews from a Frontiers in submission. (Excellent, meaning, very useful) – Steve Heim May 2 '19 at 14:31

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