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09/21/2022

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anon ancient

This is a predatory journal, as evidenced by their large publication fee. But as I understand it, they do occasionally host special issues with guest editors in which publication fees are waived.

This is my sense of it from having written a referee report for them and from having had a friend publish (for free) with them in a special issue. Others might be able to give more precise answers. In any case, I advise against trying to publish with them given their significant fee.

curious

I would love to hear from some of the editorial board members - Duncan Pritchard, Federica Russo, and Stephen Stich, for example - if they know they are listed as members of the board.

ReligionProf

Charging a fee is standard in open access publishing, even with the most reputable publishers. It developed in the natural sciences where it is common for research to be funded by grants and/or institutions which cover the fees for publishing results. It isn't a viable model for the humanities, of course, where such funding is not readily available. The alternatives are for universities to commit to paying such fees for us as faculty, or for us to create peer reviewed journals which do not charge fees. The latter seems the most viable option, since all that is needed to start a legit journal is for a legit university to host the digital publication and for legit academics to get involved in editing it.

anon ancient (again)

And to be clear, their "article processing fee" as they call it is 1200 Swiss Francs, or about $1,245 US. This applies to all papers accepted (although, again, I have anecdotal evidence that they don't charge these fees for special, guest-edited editions, for whatever that is worth).

SLAC Associate

I refereed an article for a recent special issue. I did rather appreciate their insistence on a quick turnaround time for refereeing -- I had asked for 3 weeks to do the review, but they sent me several reminder emails anyway after 10 days or so. But I was definitely put off by their seemingly predatory behavior, pushing me to submit manuscripts to several different MDPI journals, even ones that seemed a far cry from my research area.

They did inform me that by refereeing I had earned a discount on the open-access fee and that I could earn greater discounts via more refereeing -- I do wonder whether that could be part of a solution to the referee crisis at other journals.

EuroProf

I have edited a special issue in another MDPI journal, and I wouldn't agree that they are 'predatory'. All submissions underwent rigorous peer-review just like with any other journal, and there was no pressure whatsoever from the publisher to accept papers that got rejections or R&Rs. They charge a hefty publication fee, but this is due to the fact that the papers are open acces. Publishing a open access article with Cambridge UP or Springer will cost you no less.

But then again, I was given the opportunity to waive charges for a certain amount of papers, and in some cases I made use of that without any pressure or even questioning from the publisher. The papers that ended up being published could have been published in any other specialist journal in the field.

What I find dubious is the sheer amount of journals, papers and special issues MDPI produces, though. Their revenue model seems to be based on the large quantity of output which inevitably will lower the overall quality of the journal. I'd say MDPI journals are definitely not first or even second-tier journals, but they're also not scams or predators. Publishing there will do you no harm, although it probably will not count for much, either.

Postdoc

Re: ReligionProf: charging a publication fee may not be sufficient to make a journal predatory. Based on my experience refereeing a paper for Philosophies, however, I'd certainly say their practices are in fact predatory. I rejected the paper I reviewed in the strongest possible terms. It was non-contributory, garbled, and would never have passed any responsible desk review. The paper was almost immediately published anyway with no substantive revisions.

It's saddening that the APA accepts funding from MDPI and allows them to advertise at APA conferences alongside legitimate presses and journals.

Chris

Here is a successful example of what ReligionProf suggests: https://philosophymindscience.org/index.php/phimisci/about

Tom2

I refereed a paper for this journal. The paper was generally good, but had one serious flaw: It had zero citations, even though plenty of relevant literature existed. The other referee said the same thing. The problem could have been addressed without too much difficulty by the author.

The paper was published without changes. I won't be refereeing for them again.

Malcolm

Thanks for the replies so far. For more background: I've been asked to guest edit a special issue on "Eastern and Western Philosophy" for the journal.

Simply given my workload, I probably would decline anyway, but I wanted to learn more about the journal since I would like to see more open access philosophy and, too, more open access material bridging different traditions.

However, I don't want to publish poor philosophy and I don't want to encourage people to publish in a journal that will not help, or even harm, their career--especially junior folks for whom it matters.

It was also strange to me that the invitation came from MDPI itself, and not from any member of the editorial board. My guess is that they are inviting me because I published in another of their journals, Religions. (I did so before I'd heard more about their model, because of an invitation along with others whom I respect.)

I'm curious enough that I might email some of the editorial board who I know have worked on "East/West" kinds of projects, just to see if they are involved at all in these processes, or if it the impetus is purely a business model of churning out more "content" regardless of its scholarly worth. I'm also happy to have people email me if they have more information they'd prefer not to post online: malcolm.keating [at] yale-nus.edu.sg

Laura

A friend of mine published in one of their journals (not philosophy -- related field) for free, in a special issue, and her experience was that authors were basically given a template and expected to handle quite a few tasks that otherwise would have been done by a copy editor or typesetter.

Rather than thinking of MDPI as a publisher, I think it's more helpful to look at them as a publishing services platform, primarily designed to minimize overhead for the production and maintenance of OA journal content. This opens the door to both predatory and non-predatory uses, and I don't get the impression that they bother to police the line between those two categories.

They are aware that their model is controversial, and that they are often understood to be predatory.

Here's the Wikipedia article about them that lays out the evidence and history re: predatory publishing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MDPI

Here's their response to it (not especially convincing, but it's here, anyway):
https://www.mdpi.com/about/announcements/1558

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