Beall's criticism of MDPI lacks evidence and is irresponsible

I have just seen Jeffrey Beall's "analysis" of MDPI and wish to respond immediately.

I will not respond to all Beall's criticisms.

Beall has set up a site where he lists questionable (aka predatory) Open Access publishers who have poor or non-existent quality controls or have questionable organisations. This is potentially a useful service, though it is inappropriate that it should be done by a single person, especially one lacking discipline knowledge.

I have no personal involvement with MDPI. I remember when they started as a company which actually took physical chemical samples and stored them so that people could check later (the acronym MDPI can also stand for Molecular Diversity Preservation International). The compounds were linked to a journal, "Molecules" with full text. It has been going for 17 years. At one stage I wrote to them and asked them to change the licence from CC-NC to CC-BY and they immediately did.

I have never had any reason to doubt the validity of Molecules. I am now using it as an Open Access source of material to data-mine. We are doing the same with "Materials" and "Metabolites".

Beall's criticism that these are "one-word" titles is ridiculous and incompetent. They are accurate titles.

I have read (as a human) hundreds of articles in these publications. If I were to review a paper in any of them I would assume it was a reasonably competent, relatively boring, moderately useful contribution to science. The backbone of knowledge. I would expect to find errors, as I would in any paper. I reported one in my last post. This wasn't fraud, it was a product of the awful state of ALL scholarly publishing where paper processes breed errors.

It is right that there should be a list of irresponsible journals and publishers. It should be run by an Open organisation, not Beall. Maybe OASPA? Maybe SPARC? I don't know. It is wrong that a single person can destroy a publisher's reputation.

It is also right that we should highlight the equally awful (if not worse) practices of closed access publishers. Why is there no organisation campaigning for reader rights? It seems to fall to me, an individual.

All publishers have junk articles and fraudulent articles. We don't know the scale. (It's a pity that they publishers so little to enable technical solutions to this). By default I would say that a paper in Molecules is no more or less likely to be questionable than one in a closed access journal from Elsevier or ACS.

The main problem is that the Open Access community has failed to get its act together. And that the closed access community prevents anyone getting an act together.

24 thoughts on “Beall's criticism of MDPI lacks evidence and is irresponsible

  1. Adam Erkin

    I hope this reply doesn't come off as a "sales pitch" but I wanted to bring to your attention. We are just getting started, but our organization was formed to address the very questions you are asking. I don't know enough about mdpi to comment, but it will say that I think much of what Beall has done is very useful, but the problem may have unfortunately become too large for one person to handle.

    1. pm286 Post author

      I have no fundamental problem with commercial organisations posting info if it's relevant.

      I am surprised that you have patented a method of evaluation. I am not a supporter of software patents or patents for business processes.

  2. Adam Etkin

    The patent is pending and I filed it when I first started out on my own. Now that things have developed more we are set up as a NFP and plan to be very transparent regarding our evaluations etc.

    My main point was that pre-score will be addressing the problems you're discussing, which I hope is a good thing.

    Anything we as a scholarly community can do to support legitimate, ethical publishers is good for everyone.

    1. pm286 Post author

      Yes - when I started I was lured by patents and restrictive copyright. It takes time to learn they are counter productive

  3. John

    I appreciate your objective analysis of Beall's criticism. I really don't understand why a single person can do such a influencing job without supervision by professionals.
    Do you know why Beall criticize MDPI?

  4. zibuyu

    Honestly speaking, I was as astonished as you were when I saw the emails between Fang Shimin and Beall. I can hardly believe there is any integrity left when one refused to admit such an obvious and fact-proven mistake of a misplaced pic. The question here stands further about whether he actually has uncovered money trade.

  5. Jeffrey Beall

    This post is a good example of how Brits in particular and Western Europeans in general have been brainwashed into thinking that individuals should not make any assertions and that any statements, pronouncements, etc. must come from a committee, council, board, or the like. This suppression of individuality is emblematic of the intellectual decline of Western Europe. This suppression is laying the foundation for the erosion of individual rights in Europe and the forced imposition of groupthink throughout the continent.

    Murray-Rust's statement "I have no personal involvement with MDPI" is not reflective of the facts. Indeed, he is listed as serving on the editorial board of one of MDPI's many (empty) journals, the journal Data. See: (Peter, if you did not know that you were listed here, please let me know, because this is a common practice, adding people to editorial boards without their permission. Otherwise, please explain your statement that you lack involvement with MDPI.)

    It would be great if SPARC were to list predatory publishers and journals, but it and most OA organizations pretend that predatory publishers don't exist because they are afraid to admit that their OA fantasies are ... just fantasies. OASPA's membership list functions as sort of a white list, so if you don't like my list, use OASPA.

    MDPI is becoming an increasingly controversial publisher. This controversy will rub off on authors who publish there, and in the long run, I think most will wish they had published in a higher quality venue. Authors should make decisions as individuals (while they still can) and do what's best for themselves as researchers. I am saying that for most individual researchers, MDPI is not a good choice, and you ought to consider a better-quality venue.

    1. Jinhai Gao


      If MDPI is becoming an increasingly controversial publisher, it is because you are trying to make it so. Now that your own credibility is being increasingly challenged, your ability to create controversy is going to be diminished. Eventually nobody is going to care about your list anymore.

      A big reason why you put MDPI on your blacklist is "The publisher has a large fleet of journals". Can you explain then why you took Hindawi off your list? It has over 500 journals and only 220 employees! Only 42 (10%) have listed impact factors, despite being a much younger company (

      So you should either put Hindawi back to the list, or take MDPI off the list. As it stands now, you are applying double standards to these two publishing companies. I wonder what's behind this.

  6. Jinhai Gao

    I have been commenting on Beall's website, however, when I started challenging the rigorousness of his analysis, he started to attack me. Today I tried to post a response to his attack, but Beall blocked my comments. I would like to post my response here instead:

    Jeffrey Beall says:
    February 21, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    Okay, so you are using a fake name. What other false things have you said?
    I stand by this: the fact that you have never published in MDPI’s journals is very telling.
    I understand Lin is calling in favors and asking his friends to defend his business, and I commend you on your loyalty.

    It appears that all the scholars who are defending Lin have never published in any of his journals. Those closest to him, his friends that are defending him, don’t want to publish their work in his journals.

    My response:

    If you can’t attack the message, attack the messenger, classy act, Jeff! Didn’t it occur to you that by not being associated with MDPI, I can speak with impartiality?

    Your assertion that scholars who are defending MDPI have never published in it is patently wrong. You conveniently ignored comments right here that do not fit your agenda, because there are quite a few who made positive comments have published in MDPI journals. I personally know some people who have published in it, and I will definitely consider publishing in MDPI journals on a case by case basis in the future. Besides, why is it very telling that I have not published in MDPI? For example, I have never published in BMC journals, does it mean that they are predatory journals?

    Why are you so hung up with people using fake names? You didn’t seem to have any problems trusting some obvious fake names, such as yiming, HQ, etc. Where did you get the rumor that Lin is calling in favors? As far as I can tell, it came from comments by another fake name “Jina”. Pick anonymous sources that supported your story, and discredit anyone who questioned your judgment, thanks for demonstrating how hypocrisy works.

    Branding anyone who disagrees with you as a Lin lackey is a red herring designed to draw attention from the real issue — whether your analysis is a rigorous one. Can you address the substances of criticisms found in my posts?

  7. Lei Ma

    "I have no personal involvement with MDPI." But MDPI's website tells a different story.

    Editorial Board

    The Editorial Board of Data is currently being assembled and is not in its final form.

    Dr. Saulius Gražulis
    Department of Protein - DNA Interactions, Institute of Biotechnology, Vilnius University, V.A. Graiciuno 8, LT-02241 Vilnius, Lithuania
    Tel. +370 5 2602556
    Interests: crystallography data; open data

    Dr. Tomi Kauppinen
    Department of Media Technology, School of Science, Aalto University, Finland
    Interests: spatial information usability; linked science; semantics; information visualization; new media

    Prof. Dr. Peter Murray-Rust
    Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Lensfield Road, Cambridge, CB2 1EW, UK
    Tel. +44 1223 763069
    Interests: open data, data mining, molecular informatics, computational chemistry, Chemical Markup Language (CML)

    1. pm286 Post author

      I am an editor of MDPI's new Data journal and pleased to have been invited.

      I have no other involvement with MDPI.

  8. Joel Kinnamann

    As a bystander, I found Mr Beall's website a few days ago and paid close attention to what he wrote about MDPI. I also checked up some facts on my own, and posted a few comments. My comments went through initially. When I checked again today, I noticed that all my comments are gone. I can only assume that Mr Beall deleted them.

    Jeff posted the following:

    Jeffrey Beall says:
    February 19, 2014 at 1:05 PM
    This news story backs up what I said about the Nobel Laureates (at least one of them) not knowing about being on the editorial board:

    After clicking on his link, surprisingly, I found out that eCampusNews made a correction:

    Correction 2/21/2014: An earlier version of this article stated that Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Mario Capecchi was not aware he was listed as a member of the editorial board for the MDPI journal Biomolecules. At the time, Capecchi’s assistant, Lorene Stitzer, told eCampus News that “he was not aware of the fact that he had been included on the listing.” After being contacted by MDPI, Stitzer now says Capecchi is in fact aware of being an honorary board member. eCampus News regrets the error.

    Therefore, I posted a comment to ask if Jeff has further evidence to back up the claim that Nobel Laureates have been put on MDPI's list without consent, since the only "evidence" he had was from Capecchi, which turned out to be factually inaccurate. As a response by Mr Beall, this comment was removed along with my other comments.

  9. Pingback: Hot topic: trust & quality in science, science publishing et al. | Bende

  10. Dan Larson

    Here are the comments i tried to post it to Jeffrey Beall’s site.

    I used to follow your site closely and respect what you have been doing. However, i am surprized by your MDPI move, to say the least. I also spent some time on Shu-Kun Lin and found some interesting things. He started small and humble, had some success, got cocky, and became "the subject of increasing criticism and controversy". As a close follower of your site, I realized that you guys may share some similarities. I think you are also putting yourself the subject of criticism and controversy. Just a few observations on your arguments:
    0) Title: you put "Chinese" to the title and show his face to add to your argument. I think he was born in China but he is swiss now and the HQ of his company is in Switzerland. Nowadays most publishers outsource to developing countries for production.
    1) I think every journal or publisher would like to ask the best people to serve on their board. If they don't have the best people on board, critics will then claim nobody wants to serve on their boards. They cannot win. Acccording to the updated report, the noble prize winner actually acknowledged his approval but somehow you don't want to mention it.
    2) One word journal is no crime either. Nature, Science, Cell?
    3) Every journal has retracted papers. Need statistics.
    4) I am really surprized that you lowered your professional standard to this level.
    5) It is not a crime if the board member is what they went after. You can ask some Elsevier journals board members how long they spend each year on their journals.
    6) Your point is not compatible with your point #3.
    7) A publisher's name leads to another crime?

    I am not a big fan of MDPI, but your argument makes me feel for this publisher. I think all major traditional publishers are praying right now that you don't apply your argument to them.

  11. Jeanne Adiwinata Pawitan

    I do not know much about MDPI, but as long as a journal is already listed in Scopus, Pubmed or has an impact factor, then I will ignore Beall's list. I think that his list includes too many good journals, and even non open access publishers. I wonder, maybe there is a catch?.


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