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“There are many questionable aspects of the cancer journal Oncotarget, its peer review process chief among them. Somehow the journal has managed to get a high impact factor.

The journal’s publisher is a big name dropper, openly exploiting the reputations of the top cancer researchers and Nobel laureates who have a connection to this questionable journal. I think it’s just a matter of time before the journal is exposed for what it really is.


Oncotarget is on my list of questionable journals. I added it in July, 2015 after I found solid evidence that the journal’s peer review is compromised.

Here’s a recent ad hoc peer review request sent to a researcher by Oncotarget co-editor Mikhail V. Blagosklonny:

From: [email protected]

Sent: 29 March 2016 01:27
To: [Redacted]
Subject: Request to Review from Oncotarget
Dear [Redacted]

I ask you to serve as one of the reviewers. If you have no time for detailed review, please express your general opinion.

“Survivin inhibition by LNA aptamer tagged nanoformulation sensitizes drug resistant solid tumours in xenograft cancer stem cell model” submitted in Oncotarget by [Redacted].

You may accept the reviewer position regardless of potential conflicts of interests, please just indicate in confidential comments.

To accept or decline the position to review, click on the link below:


Oncotarget is a high-impact traditional journal with Impact Factor = 6.63, 6.63 and 6.36 already 3 years in a row.

Please consider Oncotarget for your own submissions. We accept papers in some other field of biology and medicine, not only in oncology

Oncotarget has published excellent papers by Carlo Croce (9 papers), Bert Vogelstein (7 papers), Andrew Schally (Nobel Prize winner, 7 papers), Peter K. Vogt (4 papers), Gregg L. Semenza (4 papers), Arnold Levine (3 papers) and other outstanding scientists

Editorial Board includes 18 members of the National Academy and several Lasker/Nobel Prize winners


Prof. Mikhail V. Blagosklonny, MD, PhD



As you can see, the poorly-written solicitation says that a “general opinion” of the manuscript is acceptable instead of a full peer review.

More worryingly, the editor says, “You may accept the reviewer position regardless of potential conflicts of interests.”

Then Blagosklonny’s email sort of degenerates into a spam email to the reviewer, dropping names of the journal’s famous associates and asking the reviewer to consider submitting to the paper.

The editor says, “We accept papers in some other field of biology and medicine, not only in oncology.” Always the salesman, Blagosklonny knows authors want to publish in high impact factor journals, and he wants to accommodate them and get their money.

There’s an article about the journal in the English-language Wikipedia that is merely a puff piece.

Looking at Oncotarget’s current issue (Volume 7, Number 15), I see 142 research articles and five clinical research papers.

The journal publishes weekly and has published 21063 pages of articles so far in 2016.

The journal charges authors $2850 per article. It is essentially selling easy publishing in a high-impact factor journal.

I think Oncotarget is a house of cards that will soon collapse.”