Based in Switzerland, the open access publisher Frontiers was founded in 2007 by Kamila and Henry Markram, who are both neuroscientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
A researcher-led initiative envisaged as being “by scientists, for scientists” the mission of Frontiers was to create a “community-oriented open access scholarly publisher and social networking platform for researchers.”
Like most successful open access publishers Frontiers has attracted controversy along the way. There have been complaints, for instance, about its peer review process (including an oft-repeated claim that its editorial system does not allow papers to be rejected), complaints about the level of “spam” it bombards researchers with, and complaints that its mode of operating is inappropriately similar to the one used by multi-level marketing company Amway.
Frontiers has also attracted criticism for publishing a number of controversial papers, and in 2014 it was accused of caving in to specious libel threats by retracting a legitimate paper.
The wave of criticism reached a peak last October when Jeffrey Beall added Frontiers to his list of “potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers”.
But Frontiers has no shortage of fans and supporters, not least amongst its army of editors and authors. It has also received public support from a number of industry organisations.
Supporters suspect that much of the criticism comes from researchers who have failed to understanding, or are not comfortable with, Frontiers’ distinctive “impact-neutral” collaborative peer review process.
A detailed Q&A with CEO and Co-Founder of Frontiers Kamila Markram can be read here: