Schekman, of course, doesn't agree that such a conflict exists. "The majority of our editors, referees, and authors are not supported by the HHMI, the Wellcome Trust, or the Max Planck Society," he wrote in response to Anderson's statements. "Although investigators supported by these organizations are encouraged to consider eLife for their best work, they are not obliged to do so and they have no favored treatment in the editorial process." Kiley, from the Wellcome Trust, agrees. The backers are "very comfortable that we have raised proper safeguards against any actual conflict of interest," he said in reference to Anderson's claims.
To date, eLife has already published more than 60 articles in the short time since its launch, and it still remains to be seen whether it can achieve the quick ascendancy to become one of the most-sought after publications for high impact research. Its founders believe that the prestige of its backers, along with the leading scientists who run it, will catapult it to the status of the Cells and Natures of the world, but the question remains as to whether scientists will abandon these closed-access stalwarts.
Even King, the biologist who benefited from eLife's lack of embargo, hadn't considered the journal as her first choice for submission.
"I will be honest," she says. "I did submit it to Science and Nature first. That's where the irony came with Science; they rejected my paper yet found it exciting enough to have a reporter covering it."