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The disparity between top-tier journals and their smaller counterparts: should we be worried?

Mind the gap_high tier journals

When selecting a journal you may consider aspects such as impact factor, circulation, and associated fees, but do you stop to think about the resources available to the journal during the submission and publication processes? Dr Elizabeth Loder is head of research at The BMJ and is also a volunteer associate editor for two smaller journals. She has recently published an interesting commentary on the disparity between the two roles.

Dr Loder highlights the differing amounts of resource and expertise that is accessible to top- and lower-tier journals. High-impact journals will often have a raft of specialists, including experienced medical and technical editors and statisticians to aid the publication of prominent manuscripts. However, this is not the case for their smaller, less influential counterparts, which often rely on volunteers. Should we be concerned? Well yes if, as suggested by Dr Loder, this disparity equates to a substantial difference in the amount of scrutiny a paper receives prior to publication, potentially allowing studies with quality issues to slip through the net.

Finding solutions to such discrepancies is not easy; Dr Loder highlights the work of The World Association of Medical Editors and the Committee on Publication Ethics, who offer free or inexpensive resources and advice as one way to try and address these inequalities. In the meantime, as Dr Loder recommends, “we should all mind the gap”.

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Summary by Jo Chapman, PhD from Aspire Scientific


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