- Unquestionably, Frontiers is for-profit.
- The Nature Publishing Group (NPG), one of the world’s most prominent for-profit science publishing companies, became majority stakeholder in in 2013.
- Frontiers themselves detail this interest on their web-site (see figure below).
- In May 2015, NPG formally concluded its merger with Springer Science, another German for-profit publishing house ( ).
- The new media entity is called .
- Problem now is the nature and extent of NPG’s stake in Frontiers remains murky to say the least.
- The figure below shows the hierarchy of owners.
- publishes a much-dreaded annual list of predatory open-access scientific publishers.
- Posting about Frontiers at least once on his blog, he doesn’t go so far as to say they’re predatory but does highlight questionable practices such as spamming and arguably loose editorial practices,
Frontiers is a for-profit open-access science journal publisher that seems to have some teething problems
- According to two blog posts, Frontiers appears to have a ‘pyramidal’ review structure, designed to maximize scientist participation in the article submission process by roping them into their ecosystem through the review process.
- One of them, Ugo Bardi, a scientist, once reviewed for Frontiers before resigning.
- He estimates, ‘The whole system may count, probably, tens of thousands of scientists‘ (
- This particular blog post makes crystal-clear that Frontiers is indeed for-profit.
- Bardi’s blog post also references Frontiers in Psychology’s decision to retract an intensively-viewed psychology article authored by Stephen Lewandowsky et al, not for scientific or ethical but for legal concerns (fear of libel and/or defamation) that in due course turned out to have been unfounded.
- The article in question was a textual analysis of blog comments. It purported to understand and/or reveal the conspiratorial mindset of climate contrarians ( ).
- Almost a year later, another open-access journal called the Journal of Social and Political Psychology published the article (not the same but revised) in full,
- Roger Jones, a climatologist, details the problems with Frontiers’ decision to retract this article,
- In a separate issue, in May 2015, Frontiers sacked 31 editors in Frontiers in Medicine and Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine.
- Covering this story, Science magazine writes, ‘the editors say Frontiers’ publication practices are designed to maximize the company’s profits‘, .
- The article also details confusion on the nature and extent of NPG’s stake in Frontiers, ‘NPG’s name initially helped attract many associate editors to Frontiers, Barton says. Although he was asked at some point to stop using the NPG logo on letters, he was never told what happened, he says. Fenter acknowledges there is “confusion” about the collective marketing. The Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, which owns Macmillan, still has a minority share in Frontiers, but the two are operating independently, Fenter says. “We made the decision about 6 months ago to make a clean separation and never to mention again that [NPG] has some kind of involvement in Frontiers‘.
- Here is Frontiers’s point-by-point rebuttal of the sacked editors’ claims,