|Country of origin|
|Key people||Shu-Kun Lin|
|Publication types||Open access journals|
MDPI is an organisational acronym used by two related organisations, Molecular Diversity Preservation International and Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, which were both co-founded by Shu-Kun Lin. The first organisation, Molecular Diversity Preservation International, founded in 1996, is primarily a chemical sample archive, with some scholarly publishing and conference activities. The second organisation, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, was founded in 2010, primarily as a publisher. As of 2018 MDPI publishes 213 peer-reviewed academic journals of which 37 have received an impact factor. Most of MDPI's employees are based in China, and the company's headquarters is located in Switzerland, with two further offices in Europe.
MDPI was included on Jeffrey Beall's list of predatory open access publishing companies in 2014 and was removed in 2015. Beall's list was shut down in 2017; Beall later wrote that he had been pressured to shut down the list by various publishers, specifically mentioning MDPI. The publisher has been downgraded to non-academic status (level 0) in the Norwegian Scientific Index from 2019.
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 (see below) 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 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 virtual conferences. In 2014, various virtual conferences were hosted in the areas of synthetic organic chemistry, material sciences, sensors, and sustainability. In 2015, MDPI co-organized two physical conferences with and at the University of Basel, the 4th Internationational Symposium on Sensor Science and the 5th World Sustainability Forum. Since 2015, scholars can organize their own conference for free on the Sciforum platform.
MDPI AG (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)
MDPI AG, a publisher of open-access scientific 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 editorial offices in China, Spain and Serbia. MDPI relies primarily on article processing charges to cover the costs of editorial quality control and production of articles. Over 280 universities and institutes have joined the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program; authors from these organizations pay reduced article processing charges. MDPI is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics, the International Association of Scientific, Technical, and Medical Publishers, and the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA).
MDPI publishes more than two hundred peer-reviewed scientific journals. As of August 2018, 40 journals have been selected for coverage in the Science Citation Index Expanded, while 69 journals are indexed in other Clarivate Analytics products, such as the Emerging Sources Citation Index, BIOSIS Previews, and The Zoological Record.
A total of 49 MDPI journals publishing in biomedicine, life sciences, and related areas are archived in PubMed Central. MDPI journals can also be found in other relevant indexing services, such as Scopus, which currently includes over 79 MDPI journals, and Ei Compendex, which covers 13 MDPI journals.
In line with OASPA's recommendation, all articles published by MDPI since 2008 are released under the CC-BY Creative Commons license and preserved with the Swiss National Library and CLOCKSS.
In August 2016, MDPI was breached, leaving exposed 17.5 GB of data, including 845,000 e-mail addresses and e-mail exchanges between authors, editors and reviewers. According to MDPI, the unprotected instance at which the data was breached has since been protected.
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?".
In 2016, another MDPI journal, Behavioral Sciences, published a review paper claiming pornography caused erectile dysfunction. Six scientists independently contacted MDPI concerned about fraud and other issues in the article, initiating an independent review by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). COPE recommended retracting the article. The listed paper editor, Scott Lane, denied having served as the editor. Thus, the paper appears not to have undergone peer-review. Further, two authors had undisclosed conflicts of interest. Gary Wilson's association with The Reward Foundation did not properly identify it as an activist, anti-pornography organization. Wilson also had posted extensively in social media that the study was "by the US Navy", although the original paper stated that it did not reflect the views of the US Navy. The other author, Dr. Andrew Doan, was an ophthalmologist who ran an anti-pornography ministry Real Battlefield Ministries, soliciting donations for their speaking. Further, the Committee on Publication Ethics determined that the cases were not properly, ethically consented for inclusion. MDPI issued a correction for some of these issues, but has refused to post corrections for others to date as described by Retraction Watch.
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.
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 (optional, at the authors' discretion), which has been advocated as a transparency measure to combat predatory journals.
Inclusion in Beall's list
MDPI was included on Jeffrey Beall's list of predatory open access publishing companies in February 2014, and removed in October 2015 following a successful appeal. Beall's concern was 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." Beall also claimed that MDPI used email spam to solicit manuscripts. Beall remained critical of MDPI after removing the publisher from his list; in December 2015 he wrote that "it is clear that MDPI sees peer review as merely a perfunctory step that publishers have to endure before publishing papers and accepting money from the authors" and that "it's clear that MDPI's peer review is managed by clueless clerical staff in China." 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 MDPI journal Data, criticized Beall's critique of MDPI as being "irresponsible" and lacking evidence.
Among the reasons Beall gave for adding MDPI to his list of questionable publishers was the accusation that the company listed Nobel Prize–winning geneticist Mario Capecchi in one of the editorial board without his knowledge. This was later revealed as the result of an inaccurate communication by Capecchi's assistant. MDPI has compiled and posted emails claiming to document the acceptance by the following Nobelists as members of the board in MDPI journals: Robert F. Curl, Richard R. Ernst, Jerome Karle, Harold Kroto, Yuan-Tseh Lee, Rudolph A. Marcus, Eric S. Maskin, Steven Weinberg, Kurt Wüthrich and George Smoot.
Following Beall's criticism of MDPI, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA) conducted an investigation in April 2014 and concluded that MDPI meets the OASPA Membership Criteria, stating that "Based on our findings we feel satisfied that MDPI continue to meet the OASPA Membership Criteria".
Further critique was raised by Martin Haspelmath who argues that the publication model employed by MDPI "creates a strong incentive to create journals and book imprints that function like 'vanity presses,' allowing authors to publish their low-quality work without significant risk of rejection." In response to Haspelmath, MDPI published a commentary in the same journal disputing a number of points.
MDPI was removed from Beall's list in 2015. In a 2017 article in Biochemia Medica, Beall wrote that he had been pressured to remove his list due to harassment from predatory publishers, and mentioned MDPI specifically as a publisher that had "tried to be as annoying as possible to the university so that the officials would get so tired of the emails that they would silence me just to make them stop."
The National Publication Committee of Norway has decided that MDPI does not meet the criteria to be defined as an academic publisher, and the publisher has been downgraded to "level 0" (non-academic) in the Norwegian Scientific Index.
Resignation of editors
In August 2018, 10 senior editors (including the editor-in-chief) of the journal Nutrients resigned, alleging that MDPI forced the replacement of the editor-in-chief because of his high editorial standards and for resisting pressure to "accept manuscripts of mediocre quality and importance."
- Vrieze, Jop (2018). "Open-access journal editors resign after alleged pressure to publish mediocre papers". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aav3129.
- Gillis, Alex (January 12, 2017). "Beware! Academics are getting reeled in by scam journals". University Affairs.
- Jeffrey Beall (18 February 2014), Chinese Publisher MDPI Added to List of Questionable Publishers Archived 2014-03-06 at the Wayback Machine., Scholarly Open Access: Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing
- "Predatory Publishing: The Dark Side of the Open-Access Movement - ASH Clinical News". ASH Clinical News. 1 January 2017.
- Beall, Jeffrey (2017). "What I learned from predatory publishers". Biochemia Medica. 27 (2): 273–279. doi:10.11613/BM.2017.029. PMC 5493177. PMID 28694718.
- "MDPI". Norwegian Scientific Index.
- "History of MDPI". Retrieved 2014-03-17.
- "Chemical Museum and Samples Exchange". Retrieved 2011-07-24.
- "MolMall About us". MolMall. 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- "Does MDPI Offer Any Discounts or Waivers of the Article Processing Charges (APCs)?". MDPI. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
- "Membership Institutes". MDPI. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
- "COPE Members". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
- "STM Members". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
- "OASPA Members". Retrieved 2015-08-20.
- "Journals indexed in SCI-E (Web of Science)". MDPI. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
- "Journals indexed in ESCI (Web of Science)". MDPI. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
- "Journals indexed in PubMed". MDPI. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
- "Journals indexed in Scopus". Retrieved 2017-11-16.
- "Journals indexed in Ei Compendex". MDPI.
- "MDPI Open Access Information and Policy". MDPI.
- "CLOCKSS". MDPI.
- "About MDPI". MDPI.
- www.ITSecurityNews.info (2018-03-26). "MDPI – 845,012 breached accounts". IT Security News - cybersecurity, infosecurity news. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
- "Have I Been Pwned: Pwned websites" (Press release). haveibeenpwned.com.
- Andrulis, Erik D. (2011). "Theory of the Origin, Evolution, and Nature of Life". Life. 2 (1): 1–105. doi:10.3390/life2010001. PMC 4187144. PMID 25382118.
- 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. PMC 4187141. PMID 26791663.
- Samsel, Anthony; Stephanie Seneff (2013). "Glyphosate's Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases". Entropy. 15 (4): 1416. Bibcode:2013Entrp..15.1416S. doi:10.3390/e15041416.
- Kloor, Keith. "When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
- Beall, Jeffrey. "Anti-Roundup (Glyphosate) Researchers Use Easy OA Journals to Spread their Views". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 12 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
- Retraction Watch. "Journal corrects, but will not retract, controversial paper on internet porn". Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- Park, Brian; Wilson, Gary; Berger, Jonathan; Christman, Matthew; Reina, Bryn; Bishop, Frank; Klam, Warren; Doan, Andrew; Behavioral Sciences Editorial Office (2018). "Correction: Park, B.Y., et al. Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports. Behav. Sci. 2016, 6, 17". Behavioral Sciences. 8 (6): 55. doi:10.3390/bs8060055. PMC 6000996. PMID 29857562.
- "Controversial Articles". MDPI. December 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2014.
- See the "Data and Documents". of Bohannon, John (2013). "Who's Afraid of Peer Review?". Science. 342 (6154): 60–65. doi:10.1126/science.342.6154.60. PMID 24092725.
- Rampelotto, P. (2014). "Opening up Peer Review in Life: Towards a Transparent and Reliable Process". Life. 4 (2): 225–226. doi:10.3390/life4020225. PMC 4187159. PMID 25370195.
- "Instructions for Authors — Editorial Procedures and Peer-Review". Life. MDPI.
- "Is this peer reviewed? Predatory journals and the transparency of peer review".
- Beall, Jeffrey (28 October 2015). "MDPI removed from publisher list following successful appeal. #OA #MDPI". @jeffrey_beall. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
- "Chinese Publisher MDPI Added to List of Questionable Publishers". Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Jeffrey Beall (11 June 2015), Guest Editing a Special Issue with MDPI: Evidences of Questionable Actions by the Publisher Archived 2015-06-16 at the Wayback Machine., Scholarly Open Access: Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing
- Jeffrey Beall (17 December 2015), Instead of a Peer Review, Reviewer Sends Warning to Authors Archived 2016-03-13 at the Wayback Machine., Scholarly Open Access: Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing
- Beall, Jeffrey (2013). "The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access". tripleC. 11 (2): 589–597.
- "Response to Mr. Jeffrey Beall's Repeated Attacks on MDPI". MDPI. February 2014. Retrieved 13 March 2014.
- "Data — Editors". Retrieved 17 March 2014.
- Murray-Rust, Peter (2014-02-18). "Beall's criticism of MDPI lacks evidence and is irresponsible".
- Beall, Jeffrey (18 February 2014). "Chinese Publisher MDPI Added to List of Questionable Publishers". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
- "Open access critic has major publisher in crosshairs - Page 3 of 3 - eCampus News". eCampus News. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014.
- "Response to Mr. Jeffrey Beall's Repeated Attacks on MDPI". MDPI. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
- "Editorial Board of Universe" (Online access). MDPI Publishing. 2016. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- "Conclusions from OASPA Membership Committee Investigation into MDPI". Retrieved 14 April 2014.
- Haspelmath, M. (2013). "Why open-access publication should be nonprofit—a view from the field of theoretical language science". Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 7: 57. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00057. PMC 3674310. PMID 23760738.
- Rittman, M (2015). "Commentary: "Why open-access publication should be nonprofit-a view from the field of theoretical language science"". Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. 9: 201. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00201. PMC 4543888. PMID 26347622.
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