Open-access journal editors resign once alleged pressure to publish mediocre papers

All ten senior editors of the open-access journal Nutrients resigned last month, alleging that the publisher, the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI), pressured them to simply accept manuscripts of mediocre quality and importance.

The conflict is acquainted for several industrial open-access publishers: as a result of authors pay fees per revealed article (about $1800 within the case of Nutrients), the publisher has associate incentive to publish as several as attainable. On the opposite hand, scientists favour to publish in fastidious, estimable journals, and tutorial journal editors wish to keep up this quality.

On fifteen August, the editor-in-chief of the journal, Jon Buckley, of the University of Australian state in the state capital, received the associate email from MDPI saying his replacement at the top of the year by somebody World Health Organization would “bring totally different concepts on board.” Buckley says this was an associate excuse to push him aside attributable to his strict editorial policy. He resigned directly, and 9 alternative senior editors followed.

Founded in 1996, Basel, Switzerland–based MDPI, has 213 open-access journals, of that twenty seven currently have a bearing issue. In 2014, it had been in brief enclosed on an inventory of predatory publishers maintained by Jeffrey Beall, a professional at the University of Colorado in Boulder, however it had been removed once the corporate appealed the choice. Today, MDPI is enclosed within the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Buckley had been operating to spice up the visibility and name of Nutrients, somebody’s clinical nutrition journal supported in 2009. Its impact issue (alive of however typically the journal’s articles square measure cited) raised from below one in 2011 to four.2 in 2017, creating it one in all MDPI’s most outstanding journals.

The number of revealed papers has additionally been rising. Between 2009 and 2017, simply over 5000 papers are published—1300 of them in 2017 alone. however consistent with Buckley, there has additionally been a pointy rise within the range of low-quality submitted manuscripts. To weed these papers out, Buckley says the journal’s rejection rate would find yourself having to rise from regarding 55% to something between 60% and 70%.

MDPI CEO Franck Vazquez objects to the current call. “We square measure against setting a man-made rejection rate,” he says. “Every article should be evaluated on quality, and if a lot of papers square measure adequate, a lot of ought to be revealed.” Vazquez desires MDPI to be a world leader within the dissemination of science, whereas he says Buckley was targeted an excessive amount of on impact factors. “When a writing is sound and helpful for researchers, it ought to be revealed, even once it’s not terribly novel.”

Lynda Williams of the University of Aberdeen within the UK, one in all the senior editors World Health Organization stepped down, says editors began to sense pressure to simply accept a lot of articles in recent months. This spring, a guest editor received comments from MDPI workers for having rejected too several papers, and sometimes the editors were asked to rethink rejections. Williams feels this strategy can eventually hurt the journal’s impact issue and result in a drop by submissions—threatening the journal itself. “They square measure primarily killing the moneymaker,” Williams says. Vazquez disagrees with this analysis and points out that the majority of the company’s journals have boosted their impact factors at the same time as they need revealed a lot of papers. “If I’d be killing the moneymaker, I’d be stupid.”

It is unclear whether or not editors of alternative MDPI journals square measure concerned in similar discussions. in a response to an inquiry from Science, the recently appointed editor-in-chief of Marine medicine, Orazio Taglialatela-Scafati of the University of Naples Federico II in Italia, writes that MDPI has “confirmed my absolute freedom to make a decision, basing solely on the standard of papers. I hope that within the next months they’ll keep this approach.”

The conflict is salient as a result of in the week eleven European national funding organizations proclaimed that starting in 2020, analysis they fund ought to solely be revealed in open-access journals, that build articles in publicly accessible, as hostile ancient journals, that generally block access to nonsubscribers. to keep up the level of quality, scientists are directed to publish solely in journals within the Directory of Open Access Journals.

In the meanwhile, MDPI has appointed 2 new editors-in-chief at Nutrients, World Health Organization Vazquez says can “maintain the top quality of the journal.” As for Buckley, he thinks he has been “kind of naive,” assumptive he would be able to lead a high-quality open-access journal closely-held by a poster publisher. He believes that tutorial societies square measure higher suited to putting in place and managing open-access journals. “They won’t have an interest within the range of papers and don’t produce other interests than the journal editors.”

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