I recently added publisher MDPI to my list of questionable publishers, an addition that has caused the publisher to go on the offensive against me and, on the positive side, to address some of its problems.
MDPI owner Shu-Kun Lin called in favors, asking his friends to support his business by leaving MDPI-favorable comments on my blog. One commenter wrote, “I have just received an SMS message from a MDPI Editor to come to this forum and to defend MDPI.”
I found that most of the comments favoring MDPI were written either by non-scholars or by scholars who have never published a paper in MDPI’s many journals. Several researchers, clearly friends of Lin, but who had never published in Lin’s journals, made arguments about how great the journals are. I think it’s very telling that Lin’s friends don’t publish in his journals. His friends know him well.
I’ve also angered someone named Fang Zhouzi (real name Shi-min Fang, or Fang Shi-min). He apparently markets himself as a Chinese science watchdog, trashing science published in journals other than those published by his friend Shu-Kun Lin, from whom he reportedly receives a stipend.
Fang is feverishly searching for dirt about me on the internet and publishing whatever he finds in his U.S.-based blog, all to defend his patron, Lin.
After I added MDPI to my list of questionable publishers, the company quickly retracted the 2004 article “Statistical Convergent Topological Sequence Entropy Maps of the Circle,” for plagiarism, even though the plagiarism was reported many years earlier. The plagiarism was reported in 2005 in an American Mathematical Society website called MathSciNet (picture below).
This report of the plagiarism was first published in 2005; the retraction (from the MDPI journal Entropy) occurred in February 2014.
A discussion of the plagiarism — and the publisher’s anger at someone who reported it — was published on a math forum called MathForge (see comment #8), based at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. It is likely that MDPI publisher Lin himself was the editor at the time the plagiarized article was published
I stand by the addition of publisher MDPI to my list. I recommend that scholars not submit papers to its journals and not serve on its editorial boards. This publisher is becoming increasingly controversial, and researchers should insulate themselves from such controversy, for it could hurt their careers in the long term.
Note: I wrote this blog post before Retraction Watch reported the retraction.