|Aktiengesellschaft (publicly held corporation)|
|Industry||Open access journals, Chemical library|
|Shu-Kun Lin, Dietrich Rordorf|
MDPI is an acronym shared by two related organizations nominally headquartered in Basel (Switzerland) and with larger offices in Beijing and Wuhan (China): Molecular Diversity Preservation International, an organization whose stated aim is to "preserve chemical samples for research," and MDPI AG (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute), a publisher of peer-reviewed open-access journals. It is considered a predatory open access publishing company publishing journals of dubious quality by Jeffrey Beall.
Molecular Diversity Preservation International
Molecular Diversity Preservation International was founded and registered as a non-profit association (Verein) by Shu-Kun Lin and Benoit R. Turin in Basel in 1996 to enable the deposit and exchange of rare molecular and biomolecular research samples. The goal was to preserve the diversity of chemical compounds through the collection and storage of samples that could be made available to the scientific community for research purposes. This collection of samples was permanently transferred to the MDPI Sustainability Foundation in 2013, and Molecular Diversity Preservation International was dissolved. The collection of chemical samples is now operated by Molmall Sarl on behalf of the MDPI Sustainability Foundation.
The journal Molecules was established in 1996 in collaboration with Springer-Verlag (now Springer Science+Business Media) in order to document the chemical samples of the MDPI collection. Several other journals were established by the MDPI Verein, including Entropy (1999), the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2000), Sensors (2001), Marine Drugs (2003) and the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2004). The publisher MDPI AG was spun off from MDPI Verein in 2010.
MDPI Verein co-organized several academic conferences, including the International Symposium on Frontiers in Molecular Science. It also runs virtual, electronic conferences, such as the Electronic Conference on Synthetic Organic Chemistry, which was started in 1997. In 2010 MDPI launched the platform Sciforum.net to host electronic conferences. In 2014, various electronic conferences were hosted in the areas of synthetic organic chemistry, material sciences, sensors and sustainability.
MDPI AG (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)
MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access journals, was spun off from the Molecular Diversity Preservation International organization. It was formally registered by Shu-kun Lin and Dietrich Rordorf in May 2010 in Basel, Switzerland, and maintains three offshore editorial offices in China. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over fifty universities or institutes in Europe and the United States have joined the MDPI Institutional Membership Program, set up in the fourth quarter of 2013; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges.
MDPI currently publishes more than 120 peer-reviewed scientific journals. As of December 2014, 24 have obtained an impact factor and 21 life science-related journals are archived in PubMed Central. Thirty-nine journals are covered by Scopus and a further 12 by Compendex (EI). All articles published by MDPI since 2008 are released under the CC-BY Creative Commons license and are archived with the Swiss National Library.
In December 2011, the MDPI journal Life published Erik D. Andrulis' theoretical paper, Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life, aiming at presenting a framework to explain life. It attracted coverage by the popular science and technology magazines Ars Technica and Popular Science, which characterized it as "crazy" and "hilarious". A member of the editorial board of Life resigned in response. Publisher Lin defended the journal's editorial process, saying that the paper had been revised following lengthy reviews by two faculty members from institutions different from the author's.
In 2013, another MDPI journal, Entropy, published a review paper claiming glyphosate may be the most important factor in the development of obesity, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and infertility. The paper itself does not contain any primary research results. It was criticized as pseudo-science by the popular science magazine Discover. With regard to the same controversial study, Jeffrey Beall has rhetorically asked, "Will MDPI publish anything for money?":
When publishers like MDPI disseminate research by science activists like Stephanie Seneff and her co-authors, I think it’s fair to question the credibility of all the research that MDPI publishes. Will MDPI publish anything for money?
A third instance of controversial publications is documented in the Australian paradox.
MDPI has published a statement in December 2013 as a response and defense on publishing controversial papers.
Inclusion in Beall's list
Jeffrey Beall added MDPI to his list of Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers in February 2014, based on his concerns that "MDPI's warehouse journals contain hundreds of lightly-reviewed articles that are mainly written and published for promotion and tenure purposes rather than to communicate science."
MDPI characterized Beall's comments as "an incompetent general critique" and alleged that the inclusion of MDPI on his list was motivated by a hostility towards open access publishing in general, noting that he had recently published a commentary on that theme.
Peter Murray-Rust, a chemist currently working at the University of Cambridge and an editorial board member of the yet to be started MDPI journal Data, criticized Beall's critique of MDPI as being "irresponsible" and lacking evidence. Fang Zhouzi, co-recipient of the 2012 John Maddox Prize, accused Beall of lacking "integrity" and "professionalism" (see Fang Zhouzi#MDPI for potential conflicts of interest).
The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), investigated Beall`s allegations against MDPI and published its conclusions in April 2014, stating that "Based on our findings we feel satisfied that MDPI continue to meet the OASPA Membership Criteria". Beall nevertheless maintains MDPI on his list of questionable publishers, describing it as a "scholarly vanity press".
One of its journals had been targeted in the Who's Afraid of Peer Review? sting operation and rejected the fake paper. In 2014, MDPI's Life journal started featuring open peer review, which has been advocated as a transparency measure to combat predatory journals.
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- Andrulis, Erik D. (2011). "Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life". Life 2 (1): 1–105. doi:10.3390/life2010001.
- Timmer, John. "How the craziest f#@!ing "theory of everything" got published and promoted". Ars Technica. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Nosowitz, Dan. "Hilarious "Theory of Everything" Paper Provokes Kerfuffle". Popular Science. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Zimmer, Carl. "Life turned upside down". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Lin, Shu-Kun (2012). "Publication of Controversial Papers in Life". Life 2 (1): 213–214. doi:10.3390/life2010213.
- Samsel, Anthony; Stephanie Seneff. "Glyphosate's Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases". Entropy. doi:10.3390/e15041416.
- Kloor, Keith. "When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Beall, Jeffrey (2015-01-08). "Anti-Roundup (Glyphosate) Researchers Use Easy OA Journals to Spread their Views". Scholarly Open Access. Retrieved 2015-01-13.
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- "Response to Mr. Jeffrey Beall's Repeated Attacks on MDPI". MDPI. February 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- Beall, Jeffrey (2013). "The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access". tripleC 11 (2): 589–597.
- "Data — Editors". Retrieved 17 March 2014.
- Murray-Rust, Peter (2014-02-18). "Beall’s criticism of MDPI lacks evidence and is irresponsible".
- Fang, Zhouzi. "再揭奇怪的美国大学图书馆员". Retrieved 10 March 2014.
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- Rampelotto, P. (2014). "Opening up Peer Review in Life: Towards a Transparent and Reliable Process". Life 4 (2): 225. doi:10.3390/life4020225.
- "Is this peer reviewed? Predatory journals and the transparency of peer review".
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