Open access critic has major publisher in crosshairs

Open access journal publisher MDPI, which drew criticism earlier this year after publishing a paper that Discover Magazine described as “pseudoscience,” has been added to Jeffrey Beall’s list of “predatory” publishers.

open-access-publisherBeall is a metadata librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver, but is primarily known for his blog Scholarly Open Access, where he keeps a running list of more than 250 open access journals he deems questionable or misleading.

Many open access journals rely on article processing charges to cover the costs of publication and review because the content itself is free and open to the public.

As a result, some dubious publishers are created with the sole intention of making money off of those fees, taking advantage of academics who have struggled to get their work published elsewhere.

While most of the publishers listed as “potential, possible, or probable predatory” on Beall’s List are fringe or more obviously deceptive publications, MDPI is a well-known entity.

Based in China and Switzerland, it publishes more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific journals, and advertises that it has ten Nobel Prize laureates on its journal’s editorial boards, as well as Peter Suber, a leader in the open access movement and director of the Harvard Open Access project.

It has released all of its articles under a Creative Commons license since 2008 through its online open access platform

“It’ll be one of the largest publishers on my list,” Beall said. “A few of its journals have impact factors. The owner is becoming an increasingly popular and controversial figure himself and is making many enemies.”

It’s those enemies that MDPI believes is the reason it is being included on Beall’s List, however.

Shu-Kun Lin, president of MDPI, said the publisher’s sponsoring of the Scientific Spirit Prize in China, awarded by an organization called New Threads, has led to an organized defamation attempt by those who oppose New Thread’s chair, Shi-min Fang.

Fang is well-known for his attempts at discrediting pseudoscience and academic fraud in China.

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