söndag 17 februari 2019

Is MDPI a serious publisher or predatory?

Post scriptum april 2020: Read also More on MDPI: Strange antics from LAND

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On social media there is a discussion about the editorial policies of the publisher MDPI, which has been involved in different controversies (see e.g. Jeffrey Beall: What I learned from predatory publishers the Wikipedia article MDPI ) . In the Norwegian Scientific Index the publishing house MDPI has recently been downgraded to zero for the publishing year 2019 . What this will mean for 2019 for the 127 individual MDPI journals listed in the Norwegian index has not yet been made public.

As I recently followed part of this debate on twitter I recalled two strange messages received last autumn from two MDPI journals. I took them first seriously since the Land editorial board contains,  among its 64 (!) members several colleagues I respect. I also thought it was associated with the Global Land Programme. And since I have really been a reviewer also for Sustainability (although strange experience) I also thought that message was serious. But as I read these mails I realized they were of the same character as the many similar mails I regularly get from clearly predatory journals. I therefore quickly dismissed them. Luckily I recently found them  in my old mailboxes and can now publish them here, as some evidence towards the debate on the reputation of MDPI.

Both messages came from the editorial office and not from any editor/colleague, which they would do if there were serious invitations to a Special Issue. Message B is clearly out of the blue. The article by Bergius et al. they refer to is much quoted already, but does not in any way relate to wild plant gathering.

I leave it for the reader to make up their own opinion about the seriousness of MDPI  - there might be other MDPI journals that are more firmly led by a serious academic editor.

A: Message received September 21st 2018 from Land editorial office

Dear Professor Widgren,

Thank you for your continuous support in reviewing for our journal, /Land/ (ISSN 2073-445X, http://www.mdpi.com/journal/land).

To acknowledge your great efforts, we would like to invite you to contribute a *FEATURE PAPER* to our journal or the current Special Issues (http://www.mdpi.com/journal/land/special_issues).

As a feature paper, the Article Processing Charges will be fully waived.
It can either be a comprehensive review paper or a full research paper.
The deadline of this activity is *31 November 2018*.

You may submit your manuscript now or up until the deadline at http://susy.mdpi.com/user/manuscripts/upload?journal=land

The submitted papers should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere. You are also encouraged to send a short abstract and tentative title to the Editorial Office at land@mdpi.com or viola.gao@mdpi.com in advance.

Land (ISSN 2073-445X, http://www.mdpi.com/journal/land) is an international, scholarly, open access journal of land systems and land management published quarterly online by MDPI. It has been covered by some important databases, like ESCI-Web of Science and Scopus. CiteScore
2017 (Scopus): 1.44, which equals rank 50/124 (Q2) in the category 'Nature and Landscape Conservation' and 129/306 (Q2) in 'Ecology'.

For further details on the submission process, please see the instructions for authors on the journal website http://www.mdpi.com/journal/land/instructions

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Best Regards
Ms. Viola Gao
Managing Editor
Skype: viola.gao.mdpi

B Message recieved Dec. 12th 2018 from Sustainability editorial office

Dear Dr. Widgren,

The journal Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050, IF 2.075) is currently running a Special Issue entitled "Certified Wild Plant Gathering in Organic Farming: Sustainability, Food Safety, Compliance and Supply Chains".

Prof. Dr. Christian R. Vogl and Dr. Christoph Schunko, of the Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Science Vienna, (Vienna, Austria), are serving as Guest Editors for this issue. We think you could make an excellent contribution, based on your expertise and your following paper:

Green economy, Scandinavian investments and agricultural modernization in Tanzania. J. Peasant Stud. 2018, 45, 825-852.

A large diversity of organically certified products include ingredients from wild plant species, but consumers, stakeholders and even experts of organic farming are frequently not aware of it. Indeed, around 40% of the total areas certified for organic farming on a global scale are not dedicated to cultivation but to wild plant gathering (including beekeeping). Wild plants can be certified as organic products if gathering areas have not been treated with products forbidden in organic farming for three consecutive years and when the gathering does not impair the stability of habitat and maintenance of species. [...]

For further reading, please follow the link to the Special Issue Website at: https://www.mdpi.com/si/sustainability/certified_wild_plant_gathering_organic_farming

The submission deadline is 31 December 2019. You may send your manuscript now or up until the deadline. Submitted papers should not be under consideration for publication elsewhere. We also encourage authors to send a short abstract or tentative title to the Editorial Office in advance (sustainability@mdpi.com).

Sustainability is fully open access. Open access (unlimited and free access by readers) increases publicity and promotes more frequent citations, as indicated by several studies. Open access is supported by the authors and their institutes. Article Processing Charges of CHF 1400 (APC) apply to accepted papers (APC: CHF 1700 from 1 January 2019 onwards). You may be entitled to a discount if you have previously received a discount code or if your institute is participating in the MDPI Institutional Open Access Program (IOAP), for more information see: http://www.mdpi.com/about/ioap.

For further details on the submission process, please see the instructions for authors at the journal website.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Ms. Kitty Cao
Assistant Editor

7 kommentarer:

Selma sa...

Dear Mr. Mats Widgren,
I found your post both revealing and interesting. After reading it I checked the Norwegian Scientific Index and I found MDPI with O. However, a few days ago I checked it again and, astonished, I discovered it is now with a 1. Any explanation? I even have a screenshot with 0 but now it is again 1.
It is clear for me MDPI is a predatory publisher and its journal Sustainability is a clear example of it. See, for example, Sustainabilty scheduled for 2019 more than 680 special issues (plus 12 regular issues).

Francky M. sa...

The Norwegian Scientific Index has not put the journals from MDPI at level zero. You can check yourself here:


Please, check your source before posting.

copy-pasta of the journals listed in the Norwegian database (mostly LVL 1)

1 Administrative Sciences
1 Aerospace
1 Agriculture
1 Agronomy
1 Algorithms
1 Animals
1 Antibiotics
1 Antioxidants
1 Applied Sciences
1 Atmosphere
1 Atoms
1 Axioms
1 Batteries
1 Behavioral Sciences
1 Bioengineering
1 Biology (Basel)
1 Biomolecules
1 Biosensors
1 Brain Sciences
1 Buildings
1 Cancers
1 Catalysts
1 Cells
1 Ceramics
1 Challenges
1 ChemEngineering
1 Chemosensors
1 Children
1 Climate
1 Coatings
1 Colloids and Interfaces
1 Computation
1 Computers
1 Cryptography
1 Crystals
1 Data
1 Designs
1 Diagnostics (Basel)
1 Diseases
1 Diversity
1 Drones
1 Econometrics
1 Economies
1 Education Sciences
1 Electronics
1 Energies
1 Entropy
1 Environments
1 Fibers
1 Fluids
1 Foods
1 Forests
1 Future Internet
1 Galaxies
1 Games
1 Gels
1 Genealogy
1 Genes
1 Geosciences
1 Geriatrics (Basel)
1 Healthcare
1 Heritage — Open Access Journal of Knowledge, Conservation and Management of Cultural and Natural Heritage
1 Humanities
1 Hydrology
1 Informatics
1 Information
1 Inorganics
1 Insects
1 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
1 International Journal of Financial Studies (IJFS)
1 International Journal of Molecular Sciences
1 International Journal of Turbomachinery, Propulsion and Power
1 ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information
1 Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease (JCDD)
1 Journal of Clinical Medicine
1 Journal of Composites Science
1 Journal of Functional Biomaterials
1 Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology
1 Journal of fungi (JoF)
1 Journal of Imaging
1 Journal of Intelligence
1 Journal of Low Power Electronics and Applications
1 Journal of Manufacturing and Materials Processing (JMMP)
1 Journal of Marine Science and Engineering
1 Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity
1 Journal of Risk and Financial Management
1 Journal of Sensor and Actuator Networks
1 Land
1 Life
1 Logistics
1 Lubricants
1 Marine Drugs
1 Materials
1 Mathematics
1 Medicina (Kaunas)
1 Membranes
1 Metabolites
1 Metals
1 Micromachines
1 Microorganisms
1 Minerals
1 Molecules
1 Multimodal Technologies and Interaction
1 Nanomaterials
1 Nutrients
1 Pathogens
1 Pharmaceuticals
1 Pharmaceutics
1 Pharmacy
1 Philosophies
1 Photonics
1 Plants
1 Plasma
1 Polymers
1 Proceedings
1 Processes
1 Proteomes
1 Publications
1 Religions
1 Remote Sensing
1 Resources
1 Risks
1 Robotics
1 Safety
1 Scientia pharmaceutica
1 Sensors
1 Social Sciences
1 Societies
1 Sports
1 Sustainability
1 Symmetry
1 Systems
1 Technologies
1 Toxics
1 Toxins
1 Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease
1 Universe
1 Urban Science
1 Vaccines
1 Veterinary Sciences (Vet. sci.)
1 Viruses
1 Vision
1 Water
1 World Electric Vehicle Journal
- Arts
- Big Data and Cognitive Computing — Open Access Journal
- Clocks & Sleep
- Corrosion and Materials Degradation
- Fishes
- Forecasting
- J — Open Access Journal of Multidisciplinary Science
- Languages
- Molbank
- Recycling

Mats Widgren sa...

Yes you are right. The reference to the Norwegian index was right at the moment it was published but have changed now. I do not know their policies. My comment about the index was only referring to the publishing company not to the individual journals (at the time of my blog post almost a year ago).


Hi Mats
so please advise is Water a predatory journal. HAve limited resources to check at the moment given the global situation and work from home is not the norm for me. Ive been given this query to check on behalf of a lecturer who wants to publish.

Mats Widgren sa...

Dear Cavall,
I have no specific knowledge of the MDPI journal Water and cannot give advice. In my blog post I only wanted to give some evidence concerning what I deemed bad behaviour from two MDPI journals. Since I wrote this blog post some other views on MDPI has also been published


Dan Brockington is a colleague I respect so I think his documentation and views are worth considering.

Moreover, when I wrote this post the Norwegian index did not mention individueal journals for 2019 only the publishing house. That has changed now as you can see from previous comments. The Norwegian Index now mentions Water as OK but of course not among the top journals in the field as Water Research.


I suggest you look at the editorial board. Do the members there belong to the top researchers in the field? I am not able to judge.

Daniel sa...

I just received from Water a message that is (substantively) identical to B Message.
Daniel Schiffman

Mats Widgren sa...

This interesting comment came from Edward Moore in Gothenburg - I made some mistake in the handling so it was not published immedeiately. Here it comes

Hej Mats,
I was asked to review some articles for the MDPI journal, Diagnostics, about 2 years ago. The review process went smoothly and I was impressed at the speed the journal took from submission, to Editor consideration to send out for review, review by 2 or 3 reviewers, the response of the authors and subsequent re-review process to decision. The whole process time was about one month. Later, they contacted me to join the Diagnostics Editorial Board - that was in January 2019. Since then, I have been contacted about once or twice every 3 months to assess whether an article should go out for review. The Publishers never sent articles for review if I had indicated that they should not go for review. The Publishers responded to my suggestions in cases of 'conflicting' reviews and have contacted me for assessing articles with 'conflicting' reviews. When I receive a manuscript for consideration to send out for review, it comes with a list of reviewers, selected by the Publishers and also at least 3 suggested by the authors of the manuscript. The Publishers ask the Editor to assess the compentence of the listed reviewers - so, the Editor has the opportunity to reject any reviewers that do not have the expertise or that appear to be 'friends' of the authors. Editors may also suggerst reviewers for the submitted manuscript. The Publishers do 'push' reviewers and editors to come to decisions - I think the average time for a review of a manuscript submitted to Diagnostics is about 10 days.
MDPI does seem to push the special topics issues - I guess the Special Issues are a money-maker for them. At the time that I joined the EB of Diagnostics, they solicited a topic from me for a Special Issue; I have not yet proposed a topic for that journal. This year, I joined the EB of another MDPI journal, Microorganisms. The experience with the Publishers of that journal has been much the same and I am acting as Co-Editor for a Special Issue for that journal - to be published next year. Before I proposed a special topic, I contacted another Editor that had edited a Special Issue; she told me that the process had gone smoothly and she had been supported by the Publishers. So far, in the case of my Special Issue, the Publishers have been efficient in organising everything.
So, I wss at first a bit suspicious about MDPI journals but all of my experience has been more or less the same as with other journals for which I have reviewed or served as Editor. The only significant difference that I have noticed has been - to my experience of 30 years publishing peer-review articles - the remarkable speed with which they are able to process their publications. I hope this 'review' helps people to consider MDPI journals.
Edward Moore, Prof of Bacteriology, University of Gothenburg