The CEO's Letter

1 November 2023
MDPI Insights: The CEO’s Letter #5 - OA Week, UK, and Strategy

Welcome to the MDPI Insights: The CEO's Letter.

In these monthly letters, I will showcase two key aspects of our work at MDPI: our commitment to empowering researchers and our determination to facilitating open scientific exchange.

Opening Thoughts

Open Access Week 2023 – the Global Drive to Open Continues

As the world's largest open-access (OA) publisher, we believe that unrestricted access to research findings is the cornerstone of transparency, efficiency, and quality control across scientific disciplines. At MDPI, we provide free, immediate access to scientific papers, empowering scientists to examine, validate, replicate, and build upon existing results. This minimizes redundancy, optimizes resources, and fosters innovative approaches.

International OA Week, held from 23 to 29 October 2023, provided a unique opportunity to link the global movement toward open sharing and open science with the progress of policy changes at the local level. Our mission, during OA Week and all the year round, is to offer educational resources highlighting the benefits of open-access publishing. The MDPI Blog is a valuable resource for information on open access and open science.

Core principles of OA publishing

Accessibility, transparency, and collaboration are core principles of OA publishing. OA aims to break down barriers that have traditionally restricted research access, ensuring that knowledge is available to all, regardless of financial situation or institutional affiliations. Our commitment to diverse pathways for OA publishing worldwide includes discounts for researchers. You can learn more about how MDPI supports scientific communities here.

One of the key strengths of OA publishing is its ability to facilitate interdisciplinary research. By removing paywalls and promoting knowledge-sharing across disciplines, OA encourages collaboration and innovation. Researchers from various fields can access and build upon each others’ work, fostering a holistic approach to addressing complex global challenges.

OA holds the potential to democratize knowledge, advance science, and drive positive societal change.

Policy driving change

Governments, institutions, and funding agencies have recognized the transformative potential of OA and have implemented policies to promote it. These policies often require publicly funded research to be made openly accessible, accelerating the growth of OA repositories and journals. Check out our spotlights on OA policies in the USEU and China

OA publishing is continuously evolving, with community-driven models and technologies shaping its future. Initiatives such as “Plan S” and “cOAlition S” promote OA publishing from the perspective of national funders, requiring grantees to publish their research openly. A new policy announced by the US administration last year mandates that, with effect from January 2026, all US federally funded research should be freely and immediately available after publication.

Additionally, preprint servers such as MDPI's Preprints.org, which allow researchers to share their findings before formal peer review, have gained popularity, enhancing the speed at which new knowledge is disseminated. The rise of blockchain technology is also being explored to ensure transparency and authenticity in scholarly publishing.

For more than two decades, OA publishing has been revolutionizing academic publishing by promoting accessibility, transparency, and collaboration. Its support for interdisciplinary research, evolving policies, and innovative practices all contribute to its growing influence in the global research community. As OA continues to expand, it holds the potential to democratize knowledge, advance science, and drive positive societal change.

MDPI is proud to lead the transition to open access.

Read more:

Impactful Research

Spotlight on Smart Cities

Smart cities will serve as a cornerstone for future human development. Their implementation will help us tackle many of the significant challenges we are facing – climate change, ageing populations, waste management, public safety, travel, and so on. Recognising the importance of this multifaceted field, MDPI launched the inaugural issue of Smart Cities in 2018 to provide an advanced forum for research into smart technology and society. Here we take a look at how this journal has developed, and its impact in this exciting field.

As at 30 October, 2023, Smart Cities has published 421 papers and has an Impact Factor of 6.4. It also has a CiteScore of 8.5, and more than one quarter of its published papers – 124 – have been cited 10 times or more.

Highly cited papers in Smart Cities

Below are several highly cited papers recently published in Smart Cities. Citation metrics are current as at 31 October 2023.

1. “Introducing the “15-Minute City”: Sustainability, Resilience and Place Identity in Future Post-Pandemic Cities
Authors: Carlos Moreno, Zaheer Allam, Didier Chabaud, Catherine Gall and Florent Pratlong
Smart Cities 2021, 4(1), 93-111; https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities4010006
Citations: Crossref (338), Scopus (366), Web of Science (270), Google Scholar (710)
The paper discusses the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 on cities, including increasing inequalities and rising unemployment. It introduces the concept of the "15-Minute City," a form of "chrono-urbanism," as a response to the challenges posed by the pandemic.

2. “A Review on Electric Vehicles: Technologies and Challenges
Authors: Julio A. Sanguesa, Vicente Torres-Sanz, Piedad Garrido, Francisco J. Martinez and Johann M. Marquez-Barja
Smart Cities 2021, 4(1), 372-404; https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities4010022
Citations: Crossref (359), Scopus (363), Web of Science (268), Google Scholar (558)
This paper provides an overview of the progress in Electric Vehicles (EVs), focusing on battery technology, charging methods, and emerging research challenges. It also analyzes the global EV market and its future outlook.

3. “IoT in Smart Cities: A Survey of Technologies, Practices and Challenges
Authors: Abbas Shah Syed, Daniel Sierra-Sosa, Anup Kumar and Adel Elmaghraby
Smart Cities 2021, 4(2), 429-475; https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities4020024
Citations: Crossref (121), Scopus (151), Web of Science (91), Google Scholar (215)
This paper gives an overview of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the context of Smart Cities, discussing the fundamental components, technologies, architectures, networking technologies, and artificial algorithms that underpin IoT-based Smart City systems.

4. “Artificial Intelligence Techniques in Smart Grid: A Survey
Authors: Olufemi A. Omitaomu and Haoran Niu
Smart Cities 2021, 4(2), 548-568; https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities4020029
Citations: Crossref (76), Scopus (94), Web of Science (57), Google Scholar (120)
This survey paper reviews the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques in the context of the smart grid. It covers various applications of AI in load forecasting, power grid stability assessment, fault detection, and security issues in the smart grid and power systems.

5. “The Metaverse as a Virtual Form of Smart Cities: Opportunities and Challenges for Environmental, Economic, and Social Sustainability in Urban Futures
Authors: Zaheer Allam, Ayyoob Sharifi, Simon Elias Bibri, David Sydney Jones and John Krogstie
Smart Cities 2022, 5(3), 771-801; https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities5030040
Citations: Crossref (72), Scopus (75), Web of Science (43), Google Scholar (176)
This paper discusses the concept of the Metaverse, a virtual world introduced by Meta (formerly Facebook), and its potential impact on urban life. It explores how emerging technologies such as AI, Big Data, IoT, and Digital Twins could reshape urban design and services in the context of the Metaverse.


“It was indeed a great and pleasant experience with MDPI regarding our recent publication. The submission process was very straightforward and less time-consuming than the norm. The review process was very fast compared to many other open access journals, which is praiseworthy. The support from the Editorial Office during the revision process was highly useful as well. We look forward to publishing with MDPI in the future, and I will most definitely recommend MDPI to my colleagues and collaborators. – Dr. Luís Rosa, University of Minho

Article in Smart Cities: Mobile Networks and Internet of Things Infrastructures to Characterize Smart Human Mobility

Inside MDPI

MDPI Manchester office, UK Visit

Allie Shi (Editorial Director, MDPI), Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI), Jamie Anderson (Manchester Office Manager, MDPI), Michael O’Sullivan (Senior Scientific Officer, MDPI), Hushneara Akhtar, and Becky Castellon (IOAP Team Lead, MDPI), dining out in Manchester, UK.

In October, I visited MDPI’s new office in Manchester. During the visit, I connected with our English Editing (EE) managers, Scientific Officer, members of the Editorial team, the Marketing team, and IOAP Team Lead.

Our Manchester office focuses primarily on EE services and provides local support for the UK market. Additionally, we regularly visit Editorial Board members and participate in local conferences.

I would like to thank Jamie Anderson, Manchester Office Manager, and her team, for their deep commitment to our Manchester staff and to MDPI’s impact on the UK market.

The UK by numbers

The UK is a hub for the world’s top universities, making it a key market for MDPI and the publishing world in general. It is home to two of the top-five-ranked universities globally, 11 in the top 100, and 15 in the top 200.

As a result, the UK plays a key role in MDPI’s global market. As at October 2023, it ranks as the seventh-largest contributor to the total number of papers published by MDPI. We have 3,500 Editorial Board members affiliated with UK institutions, including 34 serving as Editors-in-Chief (EiCs). Our commitment to collaboration with institutions is evident in the UK, where we have successfully established some 60 Institutional Open Access Program (IOAP) agreements with esteemed institutions, such as the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Imperial College London, the University of Edinburgh, and more.

According to InCites Dataset + ESCI for the period 2018–2022, as at October 2023, nearly 65% of UK papers are now published as OA. Just over 10% of total OA publications are by UK authors. UK papers are known for their high quality, with an average of 11 citations per paper. Furthermore, 2.16% of UK papers are in the top 1% of cited papers, and 14.61% are in the top 10% of cited papers, showcasing their impact.

We are currently hiring EEs in various locations worldwide.

English Editing at MDPI

Our English Editing (EE) department consists of two main branches, Quality Control and Learning and Development, reflecting our priorities. We are continuously enhancing the quality of our English Editing services and have raised the relevant standards, which now extend to company-wide communications. English editors participate in international interviews, conduct English assessments, and provide colleagues with presentations on ways to improve their use of written and spoken English.

While expanding, the EE department has proactively refocused its efforts on the quality of our work and how the English Editing department can benefit the company more broadly. We currently have approximately 140 full-time English Editors based across five offices worldwide, supplemented by over 700 freelance English editors.

Our Manchester office serves as the hub for the EE Department, with EE Managers situated there, except for Kurtis Jackson, who serves as the Head of EE and is located in our Basel office. Manchester EEs play a critical role in establishing and developing EE teams in our other offices, overseeing management and recruitment. The EE department plays a vital role in MDPI’s operations, as it is the department that touches every published paper. If this work interests you, I encourage you to explore our available EE positions, whether you are seeking full-time or freelance opportunities.


“MDPI provides an excellent service compared to any other previously used services. It delivers fast and high-quality results but at an affordable price.” – Ardha Apriyanto, University of Potsdam

“In my role as a professor, I consider that MDPI Author Services offer an excellent quality in the editing of Western academic writing while maintaining the required standards of clarity, precision and rigor. Additionally, delivery times are fast compared to other available services.” – Jesus Insuasti, University of Nariño

Read more:

Coming Together for Science

STM and Frankfurt Book Fair

Attending STM

MDPI has been a proud sponsor of the STM Conference for several years. The STM Conference is a dynamic event featuring interactive sessions, expert panellists, idea-sharing, and ample networking opportunities. On 16 October, the event kicked off with arrival drinks, sponsored by MDPI, followed by a welcoming dinner, providing a great chance to connect and network with industry professionals. The following day was filled with speakers, sessions, and further opportunities to connect. STM exemplifies the collaborative spirit of the scientific community, with session topics including achieving open, visible, and impactful research at scale; maintaining research integrity in a rapidly changing world; and exploring the impact of ever-evolving technology in the scholarly community.

Meeting with Web of Science

On a personal note, one of the highlights of STM was a candid and productive conversation with Nandita Quaderi, Editor-in-Chief and SVP at Web of Science. During our discussion, we talked about MDPI, Web of Science, the IJERPH delisting, and ways of moving forward. This open conversation aimed at fostering better collaboration for the future.

“We discussed ways to improve our communication and collaboration.”

I appreciated our frank discussion and felt that Nandita wholeheartedly supports open access. She also expressed her appreciation for the monthly CEO Letter, which she sees as a way to add personality to the MDPI brand and provide insight into the great work we do at MDPI. While we highlighted the positives, we also discussed ways to improve our communication and collaboration moving forward. This meeting alone made the trip worthwhile, and I hope Nandita doesn’t mind my sharing that she found our chat to be “the most honest and constructive discussion” she’s had with someone from MDPI in recent years.

75th Frankfurt Book Fair

Jelena Milojevic (Book Editor, MDPI), Jovana Dubajic (Book Editor, MDPI), Evan Escamilla (Project Manager, MDPI), Laura Wagner (Head of Books, MDPI), and Jenny Knowles (Commissioning Editor, MDPI), at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.

For the 75th time, the Frankfurter Buchmesse opened its doors in October to celebrate exciting stories and their authors. If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit the Frankfurt Book Fair, I highly recommend it. It’s the largest book fair in the world, attracting thousands of visitors from around the globe. This is the place to gain valuable industry insights from top-class publishing professionals, connect with publishers directly, and learn about the latest trends in publishing.

MDPI Books

Our Books team was also present at the Frankfurt Book Fair, networking and learning from various panels. Did you know that our MDPI Books department publishes OA Books?

The book publishing program includes monographs, book series, edited books and reprints of special issues and topical collections, among other book types.

If you have a book proposal you would like to discuss, please feel free to contact our Books team to understand the benefits and methods of publishing your next book with the OA model.

Closing Thoughts

MDPI Strategy Meeting

As the newly appointed CEO, this is my first year leading the MDPI Senior Management Strategy session. I saw it as an opportunity to explore what MDPI has the potential to become in the next five years. Guided by the vision of its founder and President, Dr. Shu-kun Lin, the company has accomplished remarkable feats over the past 27 years and currently holds the position as the world’s third-largest academic publisher, following Springer Nature and Elsevier.

Our primary objective is to build upon the milestones of the past decades and consolidate MDPI’s position as well-established publishing brand. The two-day meeting emphasized the importance of communicating MDPI’s values more actively via its brand and adopting a straightforward yet impactful approach to managing MDPI as a mature academic publisher.

“Our primary objective is to consolidate MDPI’s position as well-established publishing brand”

As the world’s number one open-access publisher, MDPI has long been a game-changer in the scholarly community, serving millions of authors. The challenge in being a trailblazer is the need to continuously improve and at the same time explore the next blue-ocean strategy, while also maintaining the smooth operation of the business. Our collection model, featuring guest-curated thematic topics in the form of Special Issues, has disrupted the industry. Other publishers closely study us and attempt to replicate our models. The future of this collection model is something we are actively addressing – while, of course, looking ahead to what comes next!

Stefan Tochev
Chief Executive Officer

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