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As you may have heard, MDPI is now considered a predatory publisher.

While academics have been debating MDPI for a while now, I have published in MDPI journals in the past (Fibers, Materials, Buildings, Sensors, Education Sciences, Societies, and Infrastructures), and serve on the editorial board of one of the journals (Buildings) and reviewer board for another (Materials).

In general, my experience with MDPI has not been much different from any other publisher: all of them have drawbacks, if you ask me, and all of them just care about the $$$. If you really want a journal that has no commercial aims, you need to look for journals that are open access, do not charge an APC, are run by volunteers, and depend on a bit of funding from a university or scholarly society, such as ACI Avances en Ciencias e Ingenierias. But, I got off topic.

As an author, my experience with MDPI has been just as with all other publishers: some papers got published, some papers got rejected. Some papers took long to get the reports of the reviewers, and some were quick. Some review reports were useful, some review reports were not – same old, same old. What I appreciated is that the copyediting and typesetting is fast – although then they suddenly send these super aggressive emails that you have check the proofs within 24 hours – weekend or holiday, it doesn’t matter.

At one point, I got a paper with major revisions, and one of the reviewers asked to extend the database and do extra calculations. The time for making a new version of the paper was short, so I asked the journal (i.e. editorial assistant) to give us three months. First, the assistant didn’t want to agree with this and recommended us to withdraw and resubmit the paper – it was clear for me that this reaction was related to wanting to have faster and faster times between first submission and publication. I told the assistant exactly that, and to check with the actual editor (i.e an expert in the field, not an assistant) and that solved the issue.

As a reviewer, my experience with MDPI is that they give very limited time to review a paper. I’ve accepted review invitations only when I have time for it almost now or when the paper is really interesting, but their policy of giving reviewers one week or 10 days is not nice for reviewers. All in all, it’s not like we as reviewers get anything out of our volunteering work.

As an editor, my experience with MDPI is different from other journals. The editorial assistants do a lot of the work. In a sense, the administrative support is helpful: I don’t have to worry about sending reminders to reviewers. However, the role of the editors is not as strong as for other journals. The editorial assistant also often selects reviewers, unless the editor explicitly identifies reviewers. Sometimes, several editors are involved with one manuscript. You don’t get to make decisions at every step along the way, but just get asked to make the final decision – sometimes on a manuscript you didn’t desk review in the first place. The editorial assistants are helpful, certainly, but they also give limited time to editors to react and make a decision – as in, they will send a reminder email 24 hours later that you haven’t replied yet, and as somebody with particular email management systems, those reminders really bother me – and I’ve already told them but they keep sending them anyway.

All in all, it did come as a surprise to me that MDPI got listed as a predatory journal. I actually want open access journals to take off and do better (I’ve tried to submit as much of my work as possible to open access journals). For a long time, I didn’t review for or submit to Elsevier journals, because Elsevier sort of embodies all the evil in scientific publishing at the largest scale because they are so large – but I gave up after learning that Elsevier, SpringerNature, Taylor&Francis, MDPI, Frontiers,… all are a bit the same. I’m still not sure on how to move forward, and I’ll wait for a clear evaluation from my universities to see if they will keep supporting the APC for MDPI journals or not, and to see if they recommend publishing in these journals or not anymore.

What do you think about the news of MDPI being listed as a predatory publisher?

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This Post Has One Comment
  1. Thank you for interesting content! One of MDPI paper in journal Animals was my primary reference but the more I checked its contents had some mistakes as when I replicated their work the results were quite different. Then I see the papers acceptance speed was phenomenal. So I guess it didn’t have critical reviews.
    Now reading several info and experiences like yours makes sense.

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