Publishing on rare diseases with F1000Research

This little post starts with a little matter of writing the RDCRN grant proposal on CMT and GAN last year with my colleagues Lori Sames, Allison Moore and Renee Arnold. Pretty soon after finishing this we realized we had written so much text that maybe we should write an opinion piece for a journal so that more people than NIH reviewers could see our ideas.

As with my previous posts on how manuscripts eventually see the light of day, this one has a bit of a story behind it and pure chance (a freebie).

We sent the manuscript first to Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System and had a polite “no thank you” in early March.

I and several of the Associate Editors have reviewed your manuscript. Based on those reviews, we have decided that the manuscript referenced above is not appropriate for publication in the Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System and will not be processed for peer review.  The JPNS Editorial Office is obliged to select for review only articles that will be of significant interest to readers of the Journal.  This decision does not reflect on the effort you have made and will not bias consideration of future submissions.


David R. Cornblath, MD
Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System

At this point if probably the most relevant journal to the topic was not interested in the opinions of 2 parent/patient advocates/ who started their own rare disease foundations (and 2 scientists with interests in rare diseases) who would be? We think there might have been a little pressure exerted by some researchers associated with another foundation with conflicting ideas, but who is to know. We had to look elsewhere.

I remembered that back in February I had been contacted by Eva Amsen at F1000Research.

Dear Sean,
This is a reminder that the F1000Research Rare Disease Day offer will start in several hours. Please direct rare disease researchers to http://f1000research.com/rare-diseases2014 so they can pick up a free waiver code to publish in F1000Research. Codes can be picked up on February 28 only!

Please see my previous email (below) for details.


Eva Amsen

So I contacted Eva to find out if we might be able to submit our manuscript. The managing editor Karen Rowlett also was very responsive.

Dear Sean

Thanks for your interest in publishing your review with F1000Research. We do publish reviews and would be happy to consider your article for publication.

Please take a quick look at our author guidelines before you submit using the form at F1000Research.com/author/submit.

Please get back to me if you have any questions or queries.

Kind regards


Karen Rowlett

Managing Editor, F1000Research

So by march 6th with my free code in hand I submitted to F1000Research. Having had no experience of submitting to this online journal before I had a few teething troubles – mostly around how to select reviewers and this would come back to bite me later.

By March 13th the journal sent the following email:

Dear Sean,

Thank you for your recent submission for publication in F1000Research. We just have a few queries, and once these have been addressed, we would be pleased to accept your article for publication.

          Personal communications: Please confirm that you have permissions from Dr Cohen, Dr Pleasure, Dr Goldman, Dr Gray, Dr Williams to publish the personal communications given in your article and the data included.

–          Promotional messages: We would suggest removing or rewriting some sections of the articlethat might sound like promotional messages for particular companies. In particular, we would suggest rewriting the section about Skulpt Inc. (here a reference of the studies that employed the mentioned device should be sufficient) and  to shorten the section about Athena/Quest Diagnostics. You will find our specific comments in the edited version of the manuscript.

–          Figures:We would suggest removing the figures and supplementary files. As these are only screenshots of the GRIN website, we do not think they would bring added value to the paper. Adding the website hyperlink in the text should be sufficient for the readers.

–          Contact emails: Please can you send in the contact emails for each of the authors on the manuscript.

–          Referees: Thank you for your three referee suggestions. So that we may get your article reviewed in a timely a manner as possible please could you submit at least two more. You may refer to our Editorial Board (see http://f1000research.com/editorial-board/) or suggest others in the field that you have not collaborated with in the past 5 years (providing their full name and institution).

Furthermore, we have taken the liberty of doing a light copyedit of your article. Please check over the attached document to make sure you are happy with the small amendments and have addressed our comments using track changesin Word.


Please note that this is the last opportunity to make any changes to the content of your manuscript. Once the typeset PDF of your manuscript has been made, we will send you a final proof of the PDF for checking prior to publication.

Kind regards,


I was pretty much encouraged by their considerable efforts on our behalf, their suggestions really tightened up the manuscript. It was  like having a fast critical review. The manuscript was not short so this definitely took a considerable time.

I went about making sure I had emails from the scientists we quoted getting their express permission to provide their quotes for the manuscript as they previously provided them for the grant. We also included some of their and our own edits. So it took us until March 24th to resubmit with responses.

What then followed was some back and forth as we clarified some additional typos and tried to suggest reviewers for online review. This took a while because we wanted to ensure there was little likelihood of conflicts of interest. We were of course concerned that we would face the old-school peripheral neuropathy crowd that we encountered at Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System.

The article went live on April 3rd.  

Because it is open access you can see what we had written and also see the reviews etc. Within days it had its first online review. As we are awaiting more online reviews the manuscript may change based on their suggestions. (we thank the reviewers in advance).

So far I really liked the way F1000Research works. Normally our opinion article would have cost $500 and a regular article $1000 so these prices are certainly bearable. Having submitted one manuscript I think I might be interested to try again in future, but submitting something on informatics or drug discovery as a full article.

The benefits of openness and price are pretty strong but also their attention to the manuscript was impressive and appreciated. I would say that was unexpected. I liked the friendly and very personnel service, so thank you F1000Research!

Having now tried PLoS, Chemistry Central, Hindawi and F1000Research with open access papers over the last year or so, F1000Research was the fastest and smoothest experience to date. There is a lot to like about that and their support for the rare disease community.

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2 pings

  1. sean says:

    Now we have 2 reviews the paper is final.
    Its also currently highlighted on the front page of F1000Research http://f1000research.com/

  2. sean says:

    Now we have 2 reviews the paper is final.
    Its also currently highlighted on the front page of F1000Research http://f1000research.com/

    Did I say this journal passes my five points highlighted last year…http://www.collabchem.com/2013/05/09/my-experiences-with-publishing-at-plos/

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