Understanding theIncreasing Market Share of the Academic Publisher “Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute” in the Publication Output of Central and Eastern European Countries: A Case Study of Hungary

As the open access movement has gained widespread popularity in the scientific community, academic publishers have gradually adapted to the new environment. The pioneer open access journals have turned themselves into megajournals, and the subscription-based publishers have established open access branches and have turned subscription-based journals into hybrid ones. Maybe the most dramatic outcome of the open access boom is the market entry of such fast-growing open access publishers as Frontiers and Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI). By 2021, in terms of the number of papers published, MDPI has become one of the largest academic publishers worldwide. However, the publisher’s market shares across countries and regions show an uneven pattern. Whereas in such scientific powers as the United States and China, MDPI has remained a relatively small-scale player, it has gained a high market share in Europe, particularly in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries. In 2021, 28 percent of the SCI/SSCI papers authored/co-authored by researchers from CEE countries were published in MDPI journals, a share that was as high as the combined share of papers published by Elsevier and Springer Nature, the two largest academic publishers in the world. This paper seeks to find an explanation for the extensively growing share of MDPI in the publication outputs of CEE countries by choosing Hungary as a case study. To do this, by employing data analysis, some unique features of MDPI will be revealed. Then, we will present the results of a questionnaire survey conducted among Hungary-based researchers regarding MDPI and the factors that motivated them to publish in MDPI journals. Our results show that researchers generally consider MDPI journals’ sufficiently prestigious, emphasizing the importance of the inclusion of MDPI journals in Scopus and Web of Science databases and their high ranks and impacts. However, most researchers posit that the quick turnaround time that MDPI journals offer is the top driver of publishing in such journals.

MDPI Journals: 2015 -2021 | Dan Brockington

“In this blog I report on growth of MDPI journals and papers from 2015-2021. It updates previous blogs on the same topic (the most recent is here) that looked at growth up to 2020….

By every measure MDPI’s growth continues to be remarkable. The rate of revenue increase has slowed in the last two years, to just over 50%, but even that remains extraordinary.  Note that the proportion of submissions that are published has increased, from around 44% two years ago to over 55% currently (Table 1; Figure 1)….

The growth in publications is partly sustained by lower rejection rates. The journals with the lowest rejection rates used to count for only a minority of publications and fees (Tables 2-4). Now figures for 2021 show that journals with low rejection rates are producing a higher proportion of MDPI publications….

MDPI itself has been aware of the dangers of being too inclusive. In its 2015 annual report it noted that the overall rejection rate had increased since last year (from 52 to 54%). This achievement was listed in one of the key performance indicators as a sign of progress….

Because acceptance and rejection data are no longer available on the MDPI website, we will not know what is happening to rejection rates. We cannot know, at the level of each journal, how inclusive they are, or are becoming. This points to a wider need for all publishing houses to be more transparent with the data of their journals to allow researchers to make informed choices about their journals. MDPI’s transparency had been welcome. It is now, unfortunately, following the standards set by the other publishing houses….”

An interview with Delia Mihaila of MDPI – DOAJ News Service

“In 2022, MDPI is supporting DOAJ at the Sustaining Level, a contribution made at a level that recognises the need to properly support open access infrastructure. We last caught up with MDPI in 2018 and a lot has changed. We sent Delia some questions about what’s moving in the MDPI world….”

Hintergrund – Der MDPI-Verlag – Wolf im Schafspelz? [Background: MDPI – A wolf in sheep’s clothing?] | Laborjournal online

by Henrik Müller

Die unorthodoxen Methoden des schweizerischen Verlagshauses MDPI spalten die Wissenschaftsgemeinde. Fördert es mit seiner Flut an Sonderausgaben und ultraschnellem Peer Review den wissenschaftlichen Austausch? Oder schafft es wissenschaftliche Qualität ab? Kritiker und Befürworter sind ganz unterschiedlicher Auffassung.

Scilit – Scientific & Scholarly Research Database

“Scilit is a comprehensive content aggregator platform for scholarly publications. It is developed and maintained by the open access publisher MDPI AG. It is offered for free to scientists and scholars. Using widely automated approaches to sourcing and curating data, we cover newly published content from a variety of sources within hours or days. Scilit currently covers journal articles, book chapters, monographs and preprints. For more information, please see the Scilit brochure….”

Response to: ‘Bibliometric Analysis and Impact of Open-Access Editorials in Spain’ report from ANECA

“On 1 October 2021, ANECA released a public report entitled “Bibliometric analysis and impact of open-access publishers in Spain”, raising controversy in the Spanish academic community. Stakeholders have quickly responded with surprise, criticism and rebuttal. In our own report analysis, we were perplexed by the evident lack of academic rigor and inappropriate methodology.

We were surprised and concerned that ANECA established the principles for the evaluating of researchers in Spain based on a report with a clear bias against open access journals. Similarly, we do not understand why such a report has been prepared by researchers specializing in marketing and tourism, without experience in the field of bibliometrics….

The report follows a perverse logic: whatever is not standard is considered negative, based on a standard defined by the average value of publication volume and rate of self-citations, without considering additional factors that may affect the parameters analyzed. Thus, the analysis is based on a series of non-contrasted or referenced statements that the authors use to manufacture their own paradigms.

The authors assume that a more significant number of articles inevitably implies lower “quality, rigor and degree of contribution and originality” (page 7 of the report). However, they do not provide any evidence or references to support this claim. Such a statement lacks logic and could also be used to discredit the best-known traditional publishers, many of which have published more than open-access publishers. Furthermore, many JCR Q1 subscription journals have also been designated as non-standard behavior due to the number of articles they publish….”

Journal citation reports and the definition of a predatory journal: The case of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) | Research Evaluation | Oxford Academic

The extent to which predatory journals can harm scientific practice increases as the numbers of such journals expand, in so far as they undermine scientific integrity, quality, and credibility, especially if those journals leak into prestigious databases. Journal Citation Reports (JCRs), a reference for the assessment of researchers and for grant-making decisions, is used as a standard whitelist, in so far as the selectivity of a JCR-indexed journal adds a legitimacy of sorts to the articles that the journal publishes. The Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) once included on Beall’s list of potential, possible or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers, had 53 journals ranked in the 2018 JCRs annual report. These journals are analysed, not only to contrast the formal criteria for the identification of predatory journals, but taking a step further, their background is also analysed with regard to self-citations and the source of those self-citations in 2018 and 2019. The results showed that the self-citation rates increased and was very much higher than those of the leading journals in the JCR category. Besides, an increasingly high rate of citations from other MDPI-journals was observed. The formal criteria together with the analysis of the citation patterns of the 53 journals under analysis all singled them out as predatory journals. Hence, specific recommendations are given to researchers, educational institutions and prestigious databases advising them to review their working relations with those sorts of journals

Is MDPI a predatory publisher? – Paolo Crosetto

“So, is MDPI predatory or not? I think it has elements of both. I would name their methods aggressive rent extracting, rather than predatory. And I also think that their current methods & growth rate are likely to make them shift towards more predatory over time.

MDPI publishes good papers in good journals, but it also employs some strategies that are proper to predatory publishers. I think that the success of MDPI in recent years is due to the creative combination of these two apparently contradicting strategy. One — the good journals with high quality — creates a rent that the other — spamming hundreds of colleagues to solicit papers, an astonishing increase in Special Issues, publishing papers as fast as possible — exploits.This strategy makes a lot of sense for MDPI, who shows strong growth rates and is en route to become the largest open access publisher in the world. But I don’t think it is a sustainable strategy. It suffers from basic collective action problems, that might deal a lot of damage to MDPI first, and, most importantly, to scientific publishing in general….

A predatory publisher is a journal that would publish anything — usually in return for money. MDPI rejection rates make this argument hard to sustain. Yet, MDPI is using some of the same techniques of predatory journals….”

Is MDPI a predatory publisher? – Paolo Crosetto

“So, is MDPI predatory or not? I think it has elements of both. I would name their methods aggressive rent extracting, rather than predatory. And I also think that their current methods & growth rate are likely to make them shift towards more predatory over time.

MDPI publishes good papers in good journals, but it also employs some strategies that are proper to predatory publishers. I think that the success of MDPI in recent years is due to the creative combination of these two apparently contradicting strategy. One — the good journals with high quality — creates a rent that the other — spamming hundreds of colleagues to solicit papers, an astonishing increase in Special Issues, publishing papers as fast as possible — exploits.This strategy makes a lot of sense for MDPI, who shows strong growth rates and is en route to become the largest open access publisher in the world. But I don’t think it is a sustainable strategy. It suffers from basic collective action problems, that might deal a lot of damage to MDPI first, and, most importantly, to scientific publishing in general….

A predatory publisher is a journal that would publish anything — usually in return for money. MDPI rejection rates make this argument hard to sustain. Yet, MDPI is using some of the same techniques of predatory journals….”

MDPI Experience Survey (3 mins completion) | Dan Brockington

“I have created this survey to learn more about the variety of experience of MDPI journals and communications about them. Experiences of, and responses to, MDPI journals in the research community are varied. I would like to see if there are any patterns in the views about this group of journals.

I am a professional academic based at the University of Sheffield in the UK. I have put together this survey in my capacity as an interested observer who has published two blogs about MDPI publication trends (available here https://danbrockington.com/blog-list/). I have not been asked to do this by anyone, or by the MDPI.

I will write up results and share them on my blog. The data from this survey will also be put in the public domain with the blog, except for responses to question 2, 3 and 9 below, which will not be shared, to ensure complete anonymity. If at any point you decide you do not want to complete the form please just shut the browser window and no responses will be collected. You can also edit your responses after completion….”

MDPI – Publisher of Open Access Journals

A pioneer in scholarly open access publishing, MDPI has supported academic communities since 1996. Based in Basel, Switzerland, MDPI has the mission to foster open scientific exchange in all forms, across all disciplines. Our 287 diverse, peer-reviewed, open access journals are supported by more than 67,200 academic editors. We serve scholars from around the world to ensure the latest research is freely available and all content is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).

Remote Sensing Open Access Journal of MDPI: Current Progress and Future Vision | HTML

“Remote Sensing Open Access Journal (OAJ) of MDPI was the first open access journal in remote sensing that began publishing in the year 2009. It published about 100 articles per year then, but now publishes above 3000 articles per year, the highest by any remote sensing international journal. It is now a well-recognized and respected international journal of repute in remote sensing, where the very best scientists in the subject from around the world publish regularly. In 2019, 8381 articles were submitted, but only 36% of them were published, which indicates a very high interest in publishing in the journal, but at the same time, there is a critical review process where a large number (64%) of the articles were rejected either at submission or during the peer-review process. Maintaining an impact factor of 4.509 with such a high number of publications is itself a testament to the quality of the articles published. Remote Sensing Open Access Journal of MDPI can easily further increase its impact factor swiftly, if 20–30% of the lesser ranked articles are not published. However, this creates a problem where very good articles are rejected solely based on novelty or unfounded, and often biased, subjective criticism of the value of the article. The journal follows a rigorous peer-review process involving two or more reviewers (most often three or more reviewers) followed by single or multi-tiered editorial scrutiny. Typically, multiple rounds of reviews and editorial scrutiny are involved.

Remote Sensing OAJ of MDPI is now a well-recognized leading open access journal that allows free downloads of the articles from anywhere in the world with simple internet access. Its review is fast with a median of 45 days from submission to publishing. It has rich set of articles, as evidenced by the journal performance parameters in Table 1. These articles are written by some of the best researchers on the subject from around the world. In 2019, articles originated from 118 countries. Nearly 70% for these articles came from China and the USA, followed by European countries (Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands), Canada, and Australia. Remote Sensing OAJ provides readers and authors statistics on each article, such as the number of downloads and number of citations. Remote Sensing OAJ ranks #1 amongst all remote sensing journals in terms of Eigenfactor scores (0.06661) and normalized Eigenfactor scores (8.1265). It increased its citations by 12,516 in 2019 (36,083) compared to 2018 (23,567), the highest increase in the year by any Remote Sensing Journal. Remote Sensing of Environment with 62,697 citations, and IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing with 46,565 citations rank above Remote Sensing OAJ in 2019….”

Remote Sensing Open Access Journal of MDPI: Current Progress and Future Vision | HTML

“Remote Sensing Open Access Journal (OAJ) of MDPI was the first open access journal in remote sensing that began publishing in the year 2009. It published about 100 articles per year then, but now publishes above 3000 articles per year, the highest by any remote sensing international journal. It is now a well-recognized and respected international journal of repute in remote sensing, where the very best scientists in the subject from around the world publish regularly. In 2019, 8381 articles were submitted, but only 36% of them were published, which indicates a very high interest in publishing in the journal, but at the same time, there is a critical review process where a large number (64%) of the articles were rejected either at submission or during the peer-review process. Maintaining an impact factor of 4.509 with such a high number of publications is itself a testament to the quality of the articles published. Remote Sensing Open Access Journal of MDPI can easily further increase its impact factor swiftly, if 20–30% of the lesser ranked articles are not published. However, this creates a problem where very good articles are rejected solely based on novelty or unfounded, and often biased, subjective criticism of the value of the article. The journal follows a rigorous peer-review process involving two or more reviewers (most often three or more reviewers) followed by single or multi-tiered editorial scrutiny. Typically, multiple rounds of reviews and editorial scrutiny are involved.

Remote Sensing OAJ of MDPI is now a well-recognized leading open access journal that allows free downloads of the articles from anywhere in the world with simple internet access. Its review is fast with a median of 45 days from submission to publishing. It has rich set of articles, as evidenced by the journal performance parameters in Table 1. These articles are written by some of the best researchers on the subject from around the world. In 2019, articles originated from 118 countries. Nearly 70% for these articles came from China and the USA, followed by European countries (Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain, France, the Netherlands), Canada, and Australia. Remote Sensing OAJ provides readers and authors statistics on each article, such as the number of downloads and number of citations. Remote Sensing OAJ ranks #1 amongst all remote sensing journals in terms of Eigenfactor scores (0.06661) and normalized Eigenfactor scores (8.1265). It increased its citations by 12,516 in 2019 (36,083) compared to 2018 (23,567), the highest increase in the year by any Remote Sensing Journal. Remote Sensing of Environment with 62,697 citations, and IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing with 46,565 citations rank above Remote Sensing OAJ in 2019….”

Guest Post – MDPI’s Remarkable Growth – The Scholarly Kitchen

“Standing for Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, MDPI is no stranger to controversy. In 2014, the company was named to Jeffrey Beall’s infamous list of predatory publishers. After a concerted rehabilitation effort, they were removed from Beall’s list. Since then, incidents include editors at one MDPI journal resigning in protest over editorial policies and more recently, questions raised over waiver policies that favor wealthier, established researchers over those with financial need. Just last week, a leader in the scholarly communications community felt compelled to publicly ask, “Is MDPI considered a predatory publisher?

Despite these ongoing questions, MDPI has flourished as a publisher, and authors have flocked to their journals. Based on SCImago data, at least 16 publishers were larger than MDPI in 2015 in terms of journal paper output. As of 2019, 71 of MDPI’s 250 journals have an Impact Factor (Clarivate’s JIF), an indication of rigorous peer review and impact (measured in citations), and MDPI has become the 5th largest publisher, publishing 110k papers per annum, including 103k research articles and reviews. They are firmly positioned ahead of Sage, ACS, and IEEE. Growing at ~50% YTD (despite COVID-19), MDPI may soon overtake Taylor & Francis for the spot of the 4th largest publisher in the world.

In 2019, they also became the largest Open Access (OA) publisher, moving ahead of Springer Nature, which published 102k Open Access papers (93k research articles) in fully OA and hybrid journals….”

MDPI Journals – 2015 to 2019 | Dan Brockington

“In a previous blog (published December 2019) I explored the performance and changes of the MDPI journals, examining their growth up to the end of 2018. Since I wrote that blog, data for 2019 are now available – and they are more remarkable than before (Table 1). Submissions in 2018 were over 140,000. In 2019 they were just under 240,000. Over 64,000 papers were published in 2018; in 2019 over 100,000. Estimated gross revenues (see note below Table 1) have increased by nearly 60 million Swiss francs. A downloadable PDF of this blog and the source data are available at the end of the document….

In this blog I reflect on what these trends mean for the arguments of my last blog – specifically, does growth demonstrate signs of vanity publishing? I also reflect on the responses to the first open letter that I wrote to the MDPI. The headline findings are that I believe that the growth has continued at the same rate (if not greater) because the journals provide a service that increasing numbers of academics find useful. At the same time the experience of publishing with an working for these journals remains uneven….”