CLINICAL TRIALS IN DENTISTRY VOLUME 5
The first issue of the fifth volume of Clinical Trials in Dentistry is out, and perhaps this is the right time to raise a few considerations.
First, over the last few years, the panorama of the “scientific” journal has changed dramatically. Literally thousands of new journals came into being, although just a few hundred have actually managed to survive. The most common format for these fledgling journals is open-access online. Turnaround times may be as short as a week, but with the authors paying a few thousand euros to get anything published. Publication costs and times are, however, minimized by providing minimal editing or none at all.
Obviously, it is the dream of every editor to have a popular journal, and to make this dream a reality, but journals have to have an “official” impact, and to do so be listed in databases like Scopus, Web of Sciences, PubMed, etc. As a consequence, these organizations (often owned by publishing houses, thereby revealing a remarkable conflict of interests) have been flooded with requests by new journals to be officially recognized. This increased workload has been tackled in several ways, but has inevitably caused terrible jams which have heavily delayed the decision-making process. One way to try to solve this problem has been to raise entry requirements.
Theoretically, just a few high-quality journals are now recognized. While this is understandable, it causes huge discrimination among journals. Any experienced reader knows about the poor quality of many articles published in journals which were allowed in many years ago, when very limited entry requirements were necessary. Many journals given the seal of approval decades ago would not meet the entry requirements should they apply now. It puts me in mind of the perpetually rising pension age-people used to retire earlier with higher pensions, while later generations will retire when they are much older and get much less, if anything at all.
Another way to tackle the issue has been to make a superficial assessment of the journal, rejecting it out of hand, without giving proper explanation. The rejected application would be accompanied by another copy of the official list of entry requirements, but no clarification as to which of those entry requirement had not been met. A very easy job for a lazy, and perhaps also uninitiated, employee.
Personally, I do not like the current rules of this game, because many decisions are totally subjective and not based on the available evidence. The same rules should apply to everybody, and decisions should be made by independent and competent bodies. Obviously, in the imperfect world in which we live this is unlikely to happen, but it is a comforting fairy tale.
In this unfortunate scenario, which is the readership that Clinical Trials in Dentistry aspires to address? Well, even if we may seem a bit old-fashioned, we try to stick to the original and simple concept of studies honestly presented, leaving to the reader the decision as to whether their findings would help them to practice safer and more effective dentistry, ultimately to the benefit of us all.