MDPI History

In 2021, MDPI is celebrating 25 years of scientific open access publishing. Our success story started in 1996 with a worldwide center for the collection of rare chemical samples.


Explore 25 years of serving scientists worldwide.


Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI) is officially founded and registered in Basel, Switzerland, in June 1996 by Dr. Shu-Kun Lin to promote and preserve chemical compounds.

The journal Molecules is launched in collaboration with the publishing house Springer (today Springer Science + Business Media) as one of the first electronic journals in chemistry. It was intended to run alongside the chemical samples preservation project. Dr. Shu-Kun Lin wrote the first editorial in the journal one year earlier in March 1995. The Editorial Board of the journal had been set up in 1995 too, headed by Dr. Lin as Editor-in-Chief at the time.

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The journal Molecules is taken over fully and published exclusively by MDPI and online only! At the same time, Dr. Lin asked authors he invited to publish a paper in Molecules to simultaneously deposit their chemical samples discussed in their scientific paper. Moreover, he encouraged authors to publish “one compound per paper” short notes in the newly created “Molbank” section of Molecules to report on the synthesis and characterization of compounds. This is potentially useful scientific information that would otherwise go unpublished.

Each Molbank short note is accompanied by an electronic file depicting the molecular structure of the compound, thus making Molbank (Molecules) one of the first journals to formally accept and strongly encourage the submission of electronic supplementary material and datasets for publication alongside the articles.

The Electronic Conference on Synthetic Organic Chemistry (ECSOC) is one of the first scientific MDPI events that is fully virtual and held online with no fees for participants, scientists and researchers (

MDPI takes over the publishing of Molecules from Springer and starts to publish it as a pure open access journal.

In 1997, and after one year in business, Molecules publishes 74 papers. Dr. Derek McPhee becomes the Editorial Assistant to the then Editor-in-Chief of Molecules, Dr. Esteban Pombo-Villar.

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The domains and are registered, with MDPI planning to launch a service to collect draft manuscripts (preprints) and accepted manuscripts of published articles (reprints), thus offering early access and free access to publications that are otherwise only accessible through a subscription. The idea is finally realized in 2016!

In 1998 the preparation for the journal launch of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS) begins.

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Dr. Shu-Kun Lin takes over as Editor-in-Chief of Molecules, replacing Dr. Pombo-Villar. Dr. Derek McPhee is appointed as Managing Editor of Molecules.

The journal Entropy is founded during the same year. The Editorial Board of Entropy is made up of two Nobel Laureates, Prof. Dr. Philip W. Anderson from Princeton University and Prof. Dr. Kenneth J. Arrow from Stanford University, among other eminent researchers. Both were active in their roles until 2006.

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Dr. Francis Muguet (ENSTA, Paris, France) helps to maintain the MDPI server and establishes a network with several mirror servers across Europe and North America, providing fast and free access to the MDPI publications to scientists and researchers.

The International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS) is first published. Prof. Dr. Jerzy Leszczynski acts as the founding Editor-in-Chief and two Nobel Laureates are on the Editorial Board, Dr. Jerome Karle from the Naval Research Laboratory and Prof. Dr. Yuan-Tseh Lee from the Academia Sinica.

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The journal Sensors is launched, as a result of a conversation held between Prof. Dr. Ursula E. Spichiger-Keller and Dr. Lin during a train ride in Switzerland.

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An Editorial Office is set up at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao and a first electronic manuscript submission and handling system is developed and tested.

The domain is registered, with the aim of launching so called “bulletin boards”, which are scientific discussion groups, and mailing lists for researchers to exchange ideas, as well as holding electronic online conferences. The vision of the digital event planning platform that supports open science is created in 2002 but is realized only later in 2009.

The publishing office is now located in a one-bedroom apartment in Matthäusstrasse in Basel.

The “International Symposium on Frontiers in Molecular Science 2002” (ISFMS2002, is held in Qingdao, China, the same year.

Leaders of the Open Access movement convene in December 2001 and release the Budapest Declaration in February 2002, setting the framework for the future development of Open Access publishing. The Berlin Declaration, which emerges from a conference organized by the Max Planck Society in 2003, sets out two basic requirements for any scholarly Open Access publication: the retention of the copyright by the author as well as the long-term availability of an electronic copy of the published work.

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Due to the SARS pandemic the operation of the office in Qingdao is reduced and later the office closed; the manuscript submission and publication system introduced the year before is abandoned.

The open access journal Marine Drugs is launched.

The “International Symposium on Sensor Science” (I3S 2003) is held for the first time in Paris, France, organized mainly by Dr. Francis Muguet.

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The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) is launched. Various papers from earlier volumes of this journal are presented at the “International Symposium on Recent Advances in Environmental Health Research”, organized by Prof. Dr. Paul B. Tchounwou, the founding and current Editor-in-Chief.

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MDPI introduces a modified version of the Open Journal Systems (OJS) for easier online manuscript submissions and tracking to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS). The new technical functions increase efficiency of editorial manuscript handling.

MDPI officially adopts the term “Open Access” for its publication model and moves to a two-tier publication system: papers with article publication charges (APC) are immediately published in open access, while other papers are accessible only to subscribers for 12 months before being publisher in open access (delayed open access).

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More MDPI journals (Sensors, Entropy, Marine Drugs) start to use the Open Journal Systems (OJS) to accept online manuscript submissions and for tracking. The OJS increases the efficiency of manuscript handling, streamlining processes and enhances the overall experience for authors, referees and editors.

The increasing Internet bandwidth available globally allows the reduction of the number of mirror servers that are needed to be operated for MDPI journals, thus also paving the way for a dynamic, database-based publication system.

The editorial handling of manuscripts is professionalized and standardized across all MDPI journals. The two-tier publication system is abandoned after a few months of testing and replaced by a fully open access policy.

Using the experience of the International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS), several other previously externally edited journals are taken back in-house, including Entropy, Marine Drugs and Sensors. The editorial board of Entropy is reorganized after a dispute with the former Editor-in-Chief of the journal. Francis Muguet and Derek McPhee help MDPI to defend the interests of this open access journal and MDPI.

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The adverse impact of subscription access on citations and journals' Impact Factors is demonstrated. MDPI fully abandons the subscription model and its printed editions, and moves all its scientific journals to an immediate, article publication charges (APC)-based, online-only, open access publication model.

All papers that were previously published in non-open access are converted to open access for free.

MDPI develops software to convert manuscripts to XML format and to publish papers online in a database and dynamic website, preparing for a major technical shift and further professionalization of operations. Two papers are experimentally published in Marine Drugs using this conversion system. Later, part of the system is detached to build a new database and dynamic publication system for the journals. The XML conversion system is further improved and starts to be regularly used in 2011.

The editorial office in Basel expands and two full-time editorial staff members are hired.

Three new journals are planned in 2007 with preliminary websites set up: Algorithms, Energies and Materials, which are all launched in the following year. The scientific paper publication part of the business breaks even for the first time, which demonstrates the financial viability of the fully open access publication model.

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MDPI adopts the Digital Object Identifier (DOI) system for all its scientific journals. All publications from back volumes also receive DOI numbers. Publications are released under the terms of the least restrictive Creative Commons By Attribution (CC-BY) license model.

The first two papers produced with experimental software to convert MS Word manuscripts to XML are published in the scientific open access journal Marine Drugs in January 2008. The software has since been expanded and revised and is still used in its 5th version at MDPI today for XML conversion and the production of PDF versions. With this new XML-based workflow, MDPI has also begun to cross-link references in the articles using DOI and PubMed links and introducing modern, HTML versions of the articles.

The domain is purchased to host the future publication system for all academic MDPI journals. Sensors and Molecules rapidly expand through several topical Special Issues guest edited by leading scientists. The open access policy which commenced in 2006 is further clarified and the Creative Commons license adopted, retrospectively, for all papers published by MDPI.

An office is re-opened in China and three editorial staff members are hired. The office in Basel expands by hiring a few students working part-time.

The new publication system is launched at in October 2008. With the new website, a series of tools is made available to editors to ease the maintenance of the publications database and to guarantee data integrity.

The three journals planned in 2007 begin publication.

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MDPI adds a first search index on, thus enabling readers to find relevant articles from MDPI journals.

Twelve new journals start publication, effectively doubling the MDPI journal portfolio: Cancers, Diversity, Future Internet, Nutrients, Pharmaceutics, Polymers, Remote Sensing, Sustainability, Symmetry, Toxins, Viruses and Water. Pharmaceuticals resumes publishing after a brief initial period of publication five years earlier.

A new system is deployed to host electronic conferences at and launched with the hosting of the 13th International Electronic Conference on Synthetic Organic Chemistry (ECSOC-13).

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The platform is redesigned and refactored for a first time, allowing the system to scale-up with an increasing number of papers published and rapidly widening readership.

MDPI AG, is officially founded in May 2010 as an operating company for scientific open access journals. The publication system of the journals, including the administration backend, is reengineered. The second version of the publication system brings large performance increases and further efficient administration of the database. An internal reporting and controlling system established more transparency for the evolution of the journals.

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The MDPI submission and manuscript handling system (SuSy) is launched for all MDPI journals, providing a smooth experience for authors and editors, while streamlining all editorial processes within MDPI. The XML software is further improved and finally used operatively on a larger scale, providing for cross-linked references, uniform layout, higher quality PDF versions, and HTML versions for all journals.

Promotion activities of MDPI are intensified: flyers of the journals and promotional gifts engraved with the MDPI logo are sent out to editors and authors of MDPI journals. MDPI also start using social media by opening a Facebook page.

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Experiments with mobile apps for MDPI are conducted by launching Android and iPhone apps to access and read the papers on the go, and these are made available on the App Store.

Two Editorial Offices reach 100 employees in June 2012. In total, 23 new journals start publication during 2012. Four journals are accepted for coverage by the Science Citation Index Expanded, Web of Science: Toxins, Remote Sensing, Water and Polymers. A total of 7000 scientific papers are published in 2012.

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MDPI submission system is refactored to use the same underlaying technology as the main MDPI publication platform.

MDPI starts its own indexing database of open access journals OALit (later Scilit) by sourcing and merging publication metadata from DOAJ, CrossRef and PubMed, and thus providing an alternative to the DOAJ.

A new office is opened in Wuhan, China, in March 2013. The Basel headquarters moves from Kandererstrasse, Basel (Switzerland) to a larger office at Klybeckstrasse in Basel in July 2013.

Forests, Atmosphere, Micromachines, Symmetry are newly accepted for coverage by the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE). Sustainability is accepted for coverage by the SCIE, as well as the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI). Religions is accepted for coverage by the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI). Most Impact Factors of MDPI journals increase significantly and five journals receive their first Impact Factor in June 2013.

The MDPI Magazine is launched in Summer 2013 to highlight some of the research published in the journals. A rewritten version of the MDPI submission system is released in August 2013. A first version of is released, and an institutional membership is setup in fall 2013. MDPI sponsors various scientific conferences all over the world.

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Scilit is expanded to include all types of publications (not only the ones available with an open access license). Using Scilit data, a first version of the Publisher & Journals Rankings is released at the end of 2014, providing more transparency on the number of publications and market shares of publishers and journals. is expanded and more interactive features for discussion groups, commentaries and conference hosting are introduced, making it an open platform for academic collaboration.

Four journals receive their first Impact Factor: Symmetry, Sustainability, Micromachines and Atmosphere. They are well-known journal names among scientific communicates by now. Four journals are accepted into the Web of Science in 2014: Minerals, Metals, Nanomaterials, and Catalysts. A total of twelve new journals are launched.

Our team in Haidian, Beijing, moves to new offices, to accommodate new staff.

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MDPI publishes 60,000 papers while launching thirteen journals. A total of 84% of the content published in MDPI journals is indexed in Web of Science databases (including 34 journals indexed in the newly launched database ESCI). Four journals are accepted into SCIE (Applied Sciences, Genes, Crystals, and the ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information).

MDPI organizes two international conferences in Basel in collaboration with the University of Basel (The 4th International Symposium on Sensor Science and the 5th World Sustainability Forum). The total number of regular MDPI staff members exceeds 350 at the end of 2015.

The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) organizes a re-application process for all the journals listed in its community-curated database.

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MDPI launches as a multi-disciplinary platform for early showcasing of articles in all research fields and disciplines. Preprints allows scientists to post preprints of their manuscripts and public commenting/peer-review. With this new platform, authors can now start disseminating their research findings before peer review and link the published paper with the preprint thereafter.

In a similar vein, peer review is opened up for a selection of journals, as an option for our submitting authors, lifting the anonymity of reviewers and thereby increasing the transparency of the peer review process.

To coincide with the twenty-year anniversary of our publishing house, the two flagship journals Molecules and Sensors both reach the milestone of publishing their 10,000th paper. By that time, already nine in ten articles published in MDPI journals are indexed in the Web of Science. Open peer review and commenting of articles are introduced as an option in some of our journals.

MDPI opens a new office in Barcelona, our first European office outside of Switzerland, as well as a new office in Serbia. The headquarters move across the Rhine in Basel, Switzerland, to a building that was built in 1947/48 on behalf of a printing and bookbinding company. The industrial flair is still noticeable for visitors to our headquarters.

In 2016, MDPI organizes the international Viruses 2016 conference in Basel and the First Basel Sustainability Forum: Energy, in collaboration with the University of Basel.

Our company joins initiatives close to our values, becoming a member of SPARC, a member of the United Nations Global Compact, and being added to the list of Open Access publishers which comply with the Wellcome Trust criteria for funding of APC .

Last, but in no way least, our website undergoes a complete redesign.

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With almost 36,000 peer-reviewed articles published in 2017, MDPI becomes the leading publisher of Gold open access journals, as referenced by DOAJ. The number of full-time employees offices reaches 1000.

Nine journals, which are by now highly recognizable flagship titles, get the nod to be included in the prestigious Science Citation Index Expanded (Web of Science): Cancers, Journal of Clinical Medicine, Animals, Agronomy, Cells, Electronics, Insects, Pharmaceutics, and Processes.

MDPI reinforces its links with scholarly communities by sponsoring and meeting researchers at scholarly events, by publishing journals in cooperation with learned societies, by hosting 24 conferences on its conference hosting service at and by offering its Journal and Article Management System ( to institutional publishers such as UCL (University College London) Press.

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This was the year when MDPI took first place among DOAJ Gold publishers of open access journals for the first time, in terms of the number of articles published in a year. The annual number of peer-reviewed articles published was 64,687, an increase of 80% compared with 2017.

Ten journals are accepted for coverage in the Science Citation Index Expanded (Web of Science): Biomolecules, Diversity, Foods, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, Mathematics, Metabolites, Microorganisms, Pathogens, Plants and Vaccines.

The journal Medicina starts to be published at MDPI in 2018, a journal which is owned by the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. It is one of the success stories of journals that benefitted from being transferred to MDPI: the number of published papers increased tremendously starting from about 50 articles in 2017, the year before being transferred, to over 100 published papers in 2018, the first year with MDPI, and more than 700 articles in each of 2019 and 2020.

The Institutional Open Access Program (IOAP), our membership program, encompasses 503 academic institutions around the world by the end of the year. A total of 63 scholarly societies are affiliated with one or more of our journals.

Plan S is launched in September, as an independent initiative with the goal of “making full and immediate open access a reality”.

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The whole MDPI website undergoes a redesign. In particular, the article pages henceforth provide a more straightforward user experience. We paid attention to feedback and we continued improving the look of our websites.

The total number of articles published reaches 300,000 at the end of 2019. MDPI becomes the fifth largest publisher of scholarly publications, based on the annual output during that year.

Seventeen journals are accepted for coverage in the Science Citation Index Expanded (Web of Science): Actuators, Agriculture, Biology, Biomedicines, Biosensors, Chemosensors, Children, Healthcare, the Journal of Fungi, the Journal of Personalized Medicine, Life, Magnetochemistry, Membranes, Pharmaceuticals, Photonics, Separations, and Toxics. Land, and Healthcare started to be covered in the Social Sciences Citation Index (Web of Science).

The OpenAPC initiative keeps a dataset of article-level article processing charges paid by universities and institutions for articles that were published with a Creative Commons license.

The data shows that the average gross spend per open access article in 2019 was EUR 1650, or approximately USD 1850. By comparison, the average cost per article in MDPI journals was lower by 28 per cent, at EUR 1188, or approximately USD 1330. When including articles published in ‘hybrid’ journals, i.e., subscription titles with an open access option, the cost difference is even more significant, at 36 per cent.

SciProfiles is launched, a scholarly networking platform allowing our academic users to enrich their profiles with data such as Orcid and research keywords, as well as to connect with other scholars. At “Sciforum”, an interactive conference builder is set up. To independent conference organizers it provides an easy way of setting up a conference website.

Sign-on to the submission system (SuSy) is merged with the sign-on to other MDPI platforms—Sciforum and SciProfiles, among others.

Fourteen new journals are launched that year: Acoustics, AgriEngineering, Chemistry, Clean Technologies, Clocks & Sleep, Forecasting, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Machine Learning and Knowledge Extraction, Physics, Prosthesis, Psych, Quantum Reports, Sci, and Vehicles. We launch, a scholarly community platform for fundamental scientific topics and conversations.

Offices are opened in various locations: Tokyo (Japan), Manchester (UK), Cluj-Napoca (Romania), Bangkok (Thailand) and Tianjin (China). The number of full-time employees reaches 2137 at the end of 2019.

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Despite the difficult conditions, 2020 is a year of great expansion for MDPI. At total of 53 new titles are established in-house, from “A” like AI, to “W” like World. These new journals are intended to serve scientists in areas which are not fully covered by our existing journals, or in areas deserving of their own journal. There are now more than 300 MDPI titles available for researchers looking for the perfect publishing venue. The A-Z of MDPI’s journals can be found here: The number of scientific societies partnering with MDPI reaches 124 (29 more than the previous year), some of which have chosen to run a society journal together with us.

Our IT team works on cloud-based solutions for big data scalability in

The cancellation of in-person academic events leads to an incredible amount of activity online. In addition to four physical conferences which could still take place, MDPI run 31 online conferences, three virtual conferences that were originally planned to be held in-person, as well as a total of 53 stand-alone webinars.

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As of 1 April 2021, the total number of articles published by MDPI surpassed 526,700 where 51,000 peer-reviewed articles were published from January to March 2021. Four journals were accepted for coverage in the Science Citation Index Expanded (Web of Science): Axioms, Drones, Fire and Fishes. In the first quarter of 2021, 24 new titles were launched: Adolescents, Allergies, Biophysica, Conservation, Digital, Disabilities, Encyclopedia, Gases, Geomatics, Histories, Immuno, Journal of Cybersecurity and Privacy, Journal of Respiration, Livers, Macromol, Oral, Osteology, Parasitologia, Pollutants, Radiation, Stresses, Taxonomy, Uro and Women. Two journals were transferred to MDPI from other publishers: Current Issues in Molecular Biology and Tomography. New offices were opened in Singapore, Toronto (Canada) and Bucharest (Romania). Our global workforce now includes more than 4000 people.

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