Open access critic has major publisher in crosshairs

A forum post that Beall uses as his primary ammunition on the blog was posted by one of those “enemies,” said MDPI’s chief executive officer, Dietrich Rordorf, who added that he was “astonished” by the publisher’s inclusion on the list.

“The owners of the mentioned Chinese Internet forum have reasons to discredit and publish allegations against MDPI to ‘punish’ MDPI for its sponsoring of the Scientific Spirit Prize in China,” Rordorf said.

Beall’s reasons for including MDPI on his list range from its publishing of controversial papers — a decision the publisher has defended in the interest of the “scientific communication process” —   to accusations that the Nobel laureates serving on its editorial boards are not even aware they are listed as board members.

Rordorf said that “editorial members are only added with their permission and can contact us to be removed at any time.” Some members of the boards do indeed list their role at MDPI on their official CVs, and at least two members confirmed their involvement to eCampus News.

Suber said he accepted MDPI’s invitation to serve on an editorial board, in part, because the late Francis Muguet, a french chemist and staunch supporter of open access, was an associate editor at MDPI Center Basel, a precursor to the publisher in its current form.

“I still regard him as the most dedicated activist who has ever worked on the difficult front of trying to persuade the UN to support OA,” Suber said. “I’m now looking further into MDPI, and will decide whether to continue on the board based on what I find.”

Beall’s work is often described as a valuable resource, but his motivations for the blog have recently come under criticism from open access advocates. In an article published in the journal tripleC, Beall declared the open access movement as a “negative” and “socialistic” one meant to kill off for-profit publishers.

Beall is still frequently consulted by worried academics that are wary of being scammed, and being added to his list is a dreaded occurrence among open access publishers.

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