My first visit to their website made me suspicious. I saw lots of smoke but couldn't find a fire. So I've gone back and just read the abstract for the first article in their Origin of Life issue, and I couldn't make sense of it. I've never encountered the terms in that context before, and one of the authors, Rober Root-Bernstein, is both a MacArthur fellow and a form AIDS denier, so I don't know what to make of him.
Being unable to make sense of it, all I can say is that it's more smoke, but after a lifetime reading technical articles and debunking nonsense I feel like I've got a pretty good bullshit detector. Given the mathematical focus (indeed, that's the only common element in the widely disparate fields they cover from biology to physics), it seems to me that at a minimum they've created a journal for mathematical speculations that provides no encouragement to connect them to the real world.
This journal isn't setting off any alarm bells or at least raising suspicions for you? I mean, maybe reading all the abstracts and checking all the authors in that origin of life issue would reveal that overall nothing is really out of line, but aren't the initial impressions pretty bad?
Seems interesting, although I'm not qualified to judge the chemistry. Nothing cranky about it. It's a hypothesis that "coenzyme-like" molecules performed the function of hereditary before the emergence of nucleic acids. Normal OOL stuff.
It might be better to look at stuff outside the OOL section if we wanted to judge the journal, because OOL is inevitably going to involve lots of speculative ideas. But this paper wasn't nutty.
I received an email from IJMS in October last year asking to publish in this journal for the Origins of Life issue. My colleague and I decided against it as it came with a publication charge of about $800, which is usually a sign of H-factor-boosting and little else. As far as I can tell, it's legit, but not necessarily respectable. Peer review seemed minimal.
If you want better origins of life studies, try different journals:
The top origins of life journals currently include, naturally, "Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres" http://www.springerlink.com/content/102974/ which was the major journal that has and continues to follow up on Miller and Urey's 1953 experiment. It was started sometime in the 1960s, and has gone by a few names. I've published there, but then again, so have OE creationists (Fazale Rana, specifically). The journal is not too heavy on peer review (my paper had only 1 reviewer, though the editor was very familiar with our work), so some crazier stuff occasionally gets through.
Astrobiology (http://www.liebertpub.com/products/product.aspx?pid=99) is probably the top in the origins of life field currently as papers submitted there go through the most peer review (my paper had 3 reviewers) and often become heavily cited. Very little crazy stuff gets through the peer review for this journal. The journal has only been around for 7-8 years.
International Journal of Astrobiology is the final origins-focused journal, and is young like Astrobiology, but lacks the heavy peer review. Our article there had only one reviewer (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=5336928), but the review was still pretty rigorous. Some crazy stuff gets published there.
Unfortunately the origins of life as a field attracts some pretty crazy stuff.
I've got a couple (actually 9 in print, and one in press). My most cited is in Astrobiology and attempts to address the origin of phosphorylated biomolecules (things like ATP, DNA, RNA, and others). Here's the abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16078869
Let me know if you'd like a pdf copy of any of these.
More on topic- I was pleased to actually meet Stanley Miller before he passed away. Although critique of his 1953 paper is a common creationist tactic, he seemed always pleased to have young scientists follow and expand on his ideas. Though we don't have the origins of life solved yet, we're closeer than we were back when he helped invent the field.