Worst. Journal. Ever.

From the website:

Medical Hypotheses takes a deliberately different approach to review: the editor sees his role as a ‘chooser’, not a ‘changer’, choosing to publish what are judged to be the best papers from those submitted. The Editor sometimes uses external referees to inform his opinion on a paper, but their role is as an information source and the Editor’s choice is final. The papers chosen may contain radical ideas, but may be judged acceptable so long as they are coherent and clearly expressed. The authors’ responsibility for the integrity, precision and accuracy of their work is paramount.

I once (yes, once, when I was naive and assumed that a journal from a major publisher would be legit) reviewed a paper for them, and was just about to write an angry email to the editor asking something like “Is it your objective to publish utter speculation?” before I checked the website and saw that, indeed, that is their objective (see also this and this).

Anyway, I am pleased to note that this “journal” may soon be tanked.

4 comments to Worst. Journal. Ever.

  • I hope it goes, it would be good riddance, some of the most terrible (and sometimes probably harmful) papers have been published in this journal


  • Awww, but some of their papers there were so entertaining =P
    (eg. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/category/ncbi-rofl/charlton-week/)
    About time people learn not to believe everything in print. I mean, why not just put a big disclaimer somewhere obvious that the contents are all speculative (as I imagine “Hypotheses” would imply…), and just leave it? Anyone who’s dumb enough to read it uncritically would be misled by everything else that’s ever been published anyway; the information filtering should come from within, not without. Nature publishes some speculative crap too, it’s just concealed a little better in some cases…
    I just think it’s rather pointless to play whack-a-mole with questionable information/ideas/articles. Besides, who has the right to judge anyway? Only each individual for themselves…
    PS: Sum of 1+8 is 9, right? Why the hell is it telling me I’m entering in the wrong sum? Or do I totally fail math these days, even worse than the average biologist?


  • Well, the journal most obviously is not on a very high level, but I disagree that you should condemn it on principle. A journal that collects all those weird, off-the-road, completely-bananas hypotheses is not necessarily a bad thing: as long as you keep in mind what it is. I think that a journal that specifically publishes hypotheses that are not (yet) tested and that do not fit a given paradigm is not harmful, but actually useful. And as long as you keep a reasonable level.
    What is that, “reasonable level”? Well, first of all, given a hypothesis X, the authors must argue that there is no direct, observational evidence contradicting X (and if there is, they must argue why it should be dismissed); next, they should confront X with a paradigm; show that X is falsifiable; propose a method of testing (even if it is not doable at a given time), and, last but not least, show why it would be interesting / important if their reasoning was true.
    Do you remember this <a href=”http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/08/25/0908357106.short?rss=1″>Donald Williamson paper</a> from PNAS on the origin of insect larvae, that has been submitted to PNAS via Lynn Margulis? Well, this is a counter-example: this could have been dismissed after ten minutes comparison of available data. But I do think that in general, such ideas are worth publishing in a journal that is specifically made for them.
    I think there should be a soap box like that, one that is more rigorous and formal then blogs or other forms of communication.  Incidentally, that would maybe take care of physicists having another “great idea” that explain whole biology (or vice versa).


  • Medical Hypotheses is a never-ending source of material for fun blogging! Using bad examples to describe how science is really done works well in this medium and MH is a veritable fount of great examples to pick from.


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