Cureus is an open-access medical journal based in Palo Alto, California. It charges no author fees. I recently became aware of some possibly serious problems with an article the journal published in July, 2015.
First, a citation to the article in question, a review article:
Blum Kenneth, Badgaiyan Rajenda D., & Gold Mark S. (2015). Hypersexuality addiction and withdrawal: Phenomenology, neurogenetics and epigenetics. Cureus 7(7): e290. http://dx.doi.org/10.7759/cureus.290
My first concern is with the peer review, which according to the journal itself only took two days, followed by the actual publication of the article a day later:
I don’t know whether this fast of a peer review is acceptable to the medical research community or whether the fact that it is a review article justifies the fast review. Was the publication rushed to press because of the extra attention and page views an article on hypersexuality will deliver to the journal?
The journal has a very large editorial board, made up of world-renowned medical researchers. Are they okay with the fast peer review?
My second concern is with a big mistake that appeared in the article’s abstract when it was first published and how that mistake was handled.
The original abstract appears above; the corrected one follows. As you can see, the first one starts out with the clause “Hypersexuality is now part of the DSM-V …”. This phrase is removed from the corrected abstract.
How could such a fundamental error be published in a serious medical journal? The determination of whether a given medical condition is part of the DSM-V should be easy to make. It’s binary. If the authors of the article know so much about the topic, how could they make such a blunder? Why did the peer reviewers also miss the error? Did the fast peer review contribute to the mistake not being caught?
The original abstract still appears in the PubMed version of the article.
My third concern is that no correction notice appeared for the changed article. I think the Committee on Publication Ethics advises that publishers issue a correction notice whenever the content of an article is changed. I cannot find one for this change.
My final concern is that the journal has what appears to be a contrived metric:
It’s called the Scholarly Impact Quotient (SIQ), and it’s an article-level metric. I’m not sure it has any value and fear it could be misread or misused to make the articles and the journal appear better than they really are.
I think these issues I’ve identified are serious. I realize Cureus is a new journal and still finding its way. However, given all the lofty rhetoric on the Cureus website, such as “Cureus is the medical journal for a new generation of doctors and patients,” I believe that the blunders I’ve described here should not have occurred.
Cureus’ FAQ says, “In the future, Cureus plans to introduce paid, targeted ads from BioPharma … “. I hope the journal is able to get its house in order before it starts cashing checks from pharmaceutical companies.
Hat tip: Dr. Nicole Prause