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Country of origin
  • Switzerland
Headquarters locationBasel, Switzerland
Key peopleShu-Kun Lin
Publication typesOpen access scientific journals
No. of employees1248 (in 2018)[1]

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 September 2019, MDPI publishes 208 academic journals, including 62 with an impact factor.[2] MDPI was listed a level 1 publisher in the Norwegian Scientific Index for the year 2019, the standard rating of an academic publisher.[3] All of MDPI's journals have been open access and since 2008 published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY).[4] It is a member of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association[5], a participating publisher and supporter of the Initiative for Open Citations,[6] and a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).[7]

The quality of MDPI's peer review has been disputed by some critics,[8][9][10] a complaint disputed by MDPI itself. MDPI was included on Jeffrey Beall's list of predatory open access publishing companies in 2014[11][12] but was removed in 2015.[13]


Molecular Diversity Preservation International[edit]

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.[14]

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 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 (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)[edit]

MDPI, 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, Serbia, and the United Kingdom.[14]


Controversial articles[edit]

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.[15] It attracted coverage by the popular science and technology magazines Ars Technica and Popular Science, which characterized it as "crazy"[16] and "hilarious".[17] A member of the editorial board of Life resigned in response.[17][18]

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.[19] The paper itself does not contain any primary research results.[19] It was criticized as pseudo-science by the popular science magazine Discover.[20] With regard to the same controversial study, Jeffrey Beall has rhetorically asked, "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?".[21] One of its journals had been targeted in the Who's Afraid of Peer Review? sting operation and rejected the fake paper.[22]

In 2014, following the criticism of Jeffrey Beall, OASPA investigated MDPI for controversies related to the Andrulis paper published in Life, the Australian paradox paper published in Nutrients, as well as other aspects related to the operation of the company. They concluded that MDPI continued to meet the criteria for inclusion in OASPA.[23]

In 2016, MDPI journal Behavioral Sciences published a review paper that claimed that watching pornography is a cause of erectile dysfunction.[24] Six scientists independently contacted MDPI concerned about fraud and other issues in the article. An independent review by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) was initiated, which recommended that the article be retracted. Issues raised by COPE and/or critics included:[25]

  • Scott Lane, who was listed as the journal editor who handled the submission, described his experience with this manuscript as "one of the most bizarre and atypical experiences I have encountered in my academic career" and declared that he "was not in involved in the final decision regarding correction/retraction/authorship."[25] This raises questions about the nature and processes of peer review undertaken by the journal in relation to this manuscript.
  • The article failed to provide an accurate and complete conflict of interest declaration. Author Gary Wilson was listed as affiliated with The Reward Foundation,[24] but it was not disclosed that this is an activist, anti-pornography organization with a declared mission to "highlight the benefits of quitting porn based on the latest research and self reports of those who have."[25] Another author, Andrew Doan, is an eye specialist and the founder of Real Battlefield Ministries, an organization advocating about addiction which adopts an anti-pornography position, but this association was also not disclosed.[25]
  • Wilson made extensive social media postings describing the review as a study "by the US Navy," but omitting the fact that the manuscript stated that it does not reflect the views of the US Navy.
  • COPE determined that proper and ethical informed consent was not obtained for two cases included in the article, and that the identities of the men involved were not adequately protected.[25]

MDPI issued a correction that amended the conflicts of interest declaration to read:[26]

"Gary Wilson is the author of Your Brain on Porn: Internet Pornography and the Emerging Science of Addiction. He holds an unremunerated, honorary position at The Reward Foundation, the Registered Scottish Charity to which his book proceeds are donated. The authors declare no other conflicts of interest. Opinions and points of view expressed are those of the authors' and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. NAVY or the Department of Defense."

Retraction Watch noted that this modified declaration does not identify the activities of The Reward Foundation nor does it address Doan's conflict of interest, though it does declare that no other conflicts of interest exist. It does not address the concerns COPE raised about ethics and informed consent, nor act on its recommendation that the paper be retracted by the journal. It does take account of Scott Lane's comments, in that it adds that "[i]n addition, the academic editor's name has been removed from the manuscript," but in doing so leaves unresolved questions about the approval and review process for the article. According to retraction Watch, an MDPI spokesperson's final words on the subject were "The argument is already done. Both sides got large audience. Time to stop and made peace."[25]

Inclusion in Beall's list[edit]

MDPI was included on Jeffrey Beall's list of predatory open access publishing companies in February 2014,[12] and removed in October 2015 following a successful appeal.[27] 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."[12] Beall also claimed that MDPI used email spam to solicit manuscripts[28] and that the company listed researchers, including Nobel laureates, on their editorial boards without their knowledge.[12] 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."[29] 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.[30]

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".[23]

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."[31] In response to Haspelmath, MDPI published a commentary in the same journal disputing a number of points.[32]

MDPI was removed from Beall's list in 2015.[13] Beall's list was shut down in 2017; Beall later wrote that he had been pressured to shut down the list by his employer University of Colorado Denver and various publishers, specifically mentioning MDPI.[33] 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."[33]

Recent evaluation[edit]

The National Publication Committee of Norway listed MDPI as "level 1" in the Norwegian Scientific Index in 2019, the standard rating designating a publisher as academic.[3]

Data breach[edit]

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.[34] According to MDPI, the unprotected instance at which the data was breached has since been protected.[35]

Resignation of editors[edit]

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."[36]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of MDPI". 2019-09-01. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  2. ^ "MDPI | Journals A–Z". Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  3. ^ a b "MDPI". Norwegian Scientific Index. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  4. ^ "MDPI Open Access Information and Policy". 2019. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  5. ^ "OASPA Members". Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  6. ^ "Initiative for Open Citations". Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  7. ^ "COPE: MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute), 190 Member Journals". Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  8. ^ VriezeSep. 4, Jop de; 2018; Pm, 3:45 (2018-09-04). "Open-access journal editors resign after alleged pressure to publish mediocre papers". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ Gillis, Alex. "Beware! Academics are getting reeled in by scam journals". University Affairs.
  10. ^ ajones (2017-01-01). "Predatory Publishing: The Dark Side of the Open-Access Movement". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Gillis, Alex (January 12, 2017). "Beware! Academics are getting reeled in by scam journals". University Affairs.
  12. ^ a b c d Beall, Jeffrey (18 February 2014). "Chinese Publisher MDPI Added to List of Questionable Publishers". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 2014-03-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  13. ^ a b Pal, Shalmali (1 January 2017). "Predatory Publishing: The Dark Side of the Open-Access Movement - ASH Clinical News". ASH Clinical News.
  14. ^ a b "History of MDPI". Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Timmer, John. "How the craziest f#@!ing "theory of everything" got published and promoted". Ars Technica. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  17. ^ a b Nosowitz, Dan. "Hilarious "Theory of Everything" Paper Provokes Kerfuffle". Popular Science. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  18. ^ Zimmer, Carl. "Life turned upside down". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  19. ^ a b 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.
  20. ^ Kloor, Keith. "When Media Uncritically Cover Pseudoscience". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  21. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ a b Redhead, Claire (11 April 2014). "Conclusions from OASPA Membership Committee Investigation into MDPI". OASPA.
  24. ^ a b Park, Brian Y.; Wilson, Gary; Berger, Jonathan; Christman, Matthew; Reina, Bryn; Bishop, Frank; Klam, Warren; Doan, Andrew P. (2016). "Is Internet Pornography Causing Sexual Dysfunctions? A Review with Clinical Reports". Behavioral Sciences. 6 (3): 17. doi:10.3390/bs6030017. PMC 5039517. PMID 27527226.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Marcus, Adam (2018-06-13). "Journal corrects, but will not retract, controversial paper on internet porn". Retraction Watch. Archived from the original on 14 June 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  26. ^ Park, Brian Y.; Wilson, Gary; Berger, Jonathan; Christman, Matthew; Reina, Bryn; Bishop, Frank; Klam, Warren; Doan, Andrew P.; 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.
  27. ^ Beall, Jeffrey (28 October 2015). "MDPI removed from publisher list following successful appeal. #OA #MDPI". @jeffrey_beall. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  28. ^ Beall, Jeffery (11 June 2015). "Guest Editing a Special Issue with MDPI: Evidences of Questionable Actions by the Publisher". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 2015-06-16. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  29. ^ Beall, Jeffrey (17 December 2015). "Instead of a Peer Review, Reviewer Sends Warning to Authors". Scholarly Open Access. Archived from the original on 2016-03-13.
  30. ^ Beall, Jeffrey (2013). "The Open-Access Movement is Not Really about Open Access". tripleC. 11 (2): 589–597. doi:10.31269/triplec.v11i2.525.
  31. ^ 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.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ a b 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.
  34. ^ (2018-03-26). "MDPI – 845,012 breached accounts". IT Security News - cybersecurity, infosecurity news. Retrieved 2018-08-12.
  35. ^ "Have I Been Pwned: Pwned websites" (Press release).
  36. ^ Vrieze, Jop (2018). "Open-access journal editors resign after alleged pressure to publish mediocre papers". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aav3129. Archived from the original on 2018-12-24. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links[edit]