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Let us set the record straight

I would like to respond to the concerns that were raised about the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and its publisher MDPI in general, in your article “Beware! Academics are getting reeled in by scam journals” (February 2017 issue). The article questions the quality and integrity of the journal. I would like to provide you with additional information in the hope that this may alter your assessment of it.

  1. In 2016, the journal published 1,090 papers, with four corrections and one retraction. Since its inception in 2004, there have been three retractions. We do not consider this “many.”
  2. The article mentions a lack of rigour in the journal’s articles: MDPI operates a rigorous editorial and peer-review process. The journal rejection rate in 2016 was 62.3%. The Impact Factor is 2.035 and the journal ranks in Q2 in Journal Citation Reports. The editorial process is strictly controlled by the editor-in-chief, Professor Paul Tchounwou, and the editorial board. We work exceptionally hard to ensure that the journal upholds its quality standards.
  3. The article processing charge for the journal is 1,600 CHF per paper; at today’s exchange rate, that equates to approximately $1,590 USD, not $2,000 USD as mentioned in the article.

We also find this statement troubling and unfounded: “It hasn’t always been this bad. Legitimate open access publishers, such as the Public Library of Science (PLOS) and BioMed Central, began about 20 years ago as the internet expanded.” Please note that MDPI published its first open access journal, Molecules, in 1996 (before the term open access was even defined). You will not find MDPI listed on Beall’s List (editor’s note: Jeffrey Beall, the University of Colorado Denver librarian behind the list, recently shut down his website and blog).

Unfortunately, there are indeed some “publishers” out there with poor practices, and those practices are not helpful to the reputation of legitimate publishers who adhere to industry standards and ethical publication policies. We welcome the efforts of Jeffrey Beall and also appreciate critical opinions about open access. However, we are disappointed that some of the facts in the article were not corroborated with us.

Unai Vicario
Dr. Vicario is co-managing editor of IJERPH in Barcelona, Spain.