A while back a PI and I were discussing a few papers of interest to me. The PI is an expert in the method used in all the papers, while I'm a bit of a novice. While going over one of the papers he kind of hemmed and hawed a bit at the methods. Pointed out a few statical issues that I didn't catch at first glance. He the paused for a moment and said "there's a reason they published in that journal"
That journal being one of mediocre repute. Not C/N/S. Not a not society or field wide journal. Just a ho-hum, yes I've heard of it but it isn't anything special journal. I felt a little taken aback by that. Even though he'd already pointed out issues with the paper itself. Even though he meant that the paper probably had been rejected elsewhere (I got a vague feeling he had reviewed it).
Is "there's a reason they published it in that journal" too far a conclusion to jump? It seems so, given all this talk of judging papers not by the Impact Factor of the journal but by the paper itself. Which, of course, makes total sense.
Yet, last week when a new paper by a well known (to me) researcher made it's way to by inbox one of the first things I saw that it was uncharacteristically in a 'mediocre journal' and I immediately thought it must have been rejected at all the high IF journals he usually publishes in. That feels like an unwarranted assumption. Yet I cannot imagine that he would send the paper to this journal first. Does that mean the paper has some fatal flaw? Or perhaps he just couldn't talk up the impact as well this time?
I haven't even read the paper yet.