The MDPI Editorial Process
MDPI operates a rigorous peer-review process. In most cases this is a single-blind assessment with at least two independent reviewers, followed by a final acceptance/rejection decision by the Editor-in-Chief, or another academic editor approved by the Editor-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief is responsible for the academic quality of the publication process, including acceptance decisions, approval of Guest Editors and special issue topics, and new Editorial Board members.
A summary of the editorial process is given in the flowchart below. The following provides notes on each step.
Immediately after submission, this check is initially carried out by the managing editor to assess:
- Suitability of the manuscript to the journal/section/special issue;
- Qualification and background of authors;
- Reject obviously poor manuscripts.
The Academic Editor, i.e., the Editor-in-Chief in the case of regular submissions, or the Guest Editor in the case of Special Issue submissions, or an Editorial Board Member in case of a conflict of interest, will be notified of the submission and invited to check and recommend reviewers.
The process is single-blind for most journals, meaning that the author does not know the identity of the reviewer, but the reviewer knows the identity of the author. Some journals operate double-blind peer review.
At least two review reports are collected for each submitted article. Suggestions of reviewers can be made by the academic editor during pre-check. Alternatively, MDPI editorial staff will use qualified Editorial Board Members, qualified reviewers from our database, or new reviewers identified by web searches for related articles.
The following checks are applied to all reviewers:
- That they hold no conflicts of interest with the authors, including if they have published together in the last five years;
- That they hold a PhD (exceptions are made in some fields, e.g. medicine);
- They must have recent publications in the field of the submitted paper;
- They have not recently been invited to review a manuscript for any MDPI journal.
To assist academic editors, MDPI staff handle all communication with reviewers, authors, and the external editor; however, Academic Editors can check the status of manuscripts and the identity of reviewers at any time. Reviewers are given 7-10 days to write their review. For the review of a revised manuscript, reviewers are asked to provide their report within three days. In both cases, extensions can be granted on request.
A paper can only be accepted for publication by an academic editor. Employed MDPI staff can only reject papers: it would create a clear conflict of interest if they were permitted to accept a paper as their salary is paid for by the APC of accepted articles.
MDPI journals operate an open peer review option, meaning that the authors have the option to publish the review reports and author responses with the published paper (often referred to as open reports). In addition, reviewers may choose to sign their reports if the review is published, in which case the reviewer name appears on the review report (referred to as open identity). The default option is for reviewers to remain anonymous and for reports not to be published, reviewers and authors respectively must opt into this option. If an article is rejected no details will be published. Open peer review has the benefit of increasing transparency about the review process and providing further information about the paper for interested readers and we encourage authors to choose open review. Further background can be found on our blog.
Authors can recommend potential reviewers. Journal editors will check to make sure there are no conflict of interests before contacting those reviewers, and will not consider those with competing interests. Reviewers are asked to declare any conflicts of interest. Authors can also enter the names of potential peer reviewers they wish to exclude from consideration in the peer review of their manuscript, during the initial submission progress. The editorial team will respect these requests so long as this does not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of the submission.
Acceptance decisions on manuscripts, after peer review, are made by an academic editor, either the Editor-in-Chief, a Guest Editor, or another suitable Editorial Board member. When making an editorial decision, we expect that the academic editor checks the following:
- The suitability of selected reviewers;
- Adequacy of reviewer comments and author response;
- Overall scientific quality of the paper.
The editor can select from: accept, reject, ask author for revision, ask for an additional reviewer.
If there is any suspicion that a paper may contain plagiarism, the editorial office will check using the industry standard iThenticate software.
Reviewers make recommendations, and Editors-in-Chief are free to disagree with their views. If they do so, they should justify their decision, for the benefit of the authors.
Editorial independence is extremely important and MDPI does not interfere with editorial decisions. In particular, no paper is published without the agreement of an academic editor and MDPI staff do not advise academic editors about accepting or rejecting articles.
MDPI staff or editorial board members (including Editors-in-Chief) are not involved in the processing their own academic work. Their submissions are assigned to at least two independent outside reviewers. Decisions are made by other editorial board members who do not have a conflict of interest with the author.
In cases where only minor revisions are recommended, the author is usually requested to revise the paper before referring to the external editor. Articles may or may not be sent to reviewers after author revision, dependent on whether the reviewer requested to see the revised version and the wishes of the Academic editor. Apart from in exceptional circumstances, we allow a maximum of two rounds of major revision per manuscript.
The MDPI editorial process.
MDPI carries out production on all manuscripts, including language editing, copy editing and conversion to XML. Language editing is carried out by professional English editing staff. In the small number of cases where extensive editing or formatting is required, we charge authors an additional fee (with authors’ prior approval). The authors are also free to use other English editing service, or consult a native English-speaking colleague—the latter being our preferred option.
MDPI is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), including following its Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing. Our journals follow COPE’s procedures for dealing with potentially unethical behaviour by authors, reviewers or editors. All MDPI editorial staff are trained in how to detect and respond to ethical problems.
Ethical issues raised by readers of the journal will be investigated by the editorial office following procedures recommended by COPE. Disputes on the validity of research reported in published papers can be settled by the editorial board. For disputes around authorship, data ownership, author misconduct, etc., where necessary we will refer to external organizations such as a university ethics committee. Authors are asked to respond to any substantiated allegations made against them.
To manage authorship disputes we follow COPE guidelines, particularly How to spot authorship problems [PDF]. Typically, if all authors agree, the authorship can be updated via a Correction. If not, we require an authoritative statement from the authors' institution(s) about who qualifies for authorship.
ICMJE: Medically related MDPI journals follow the recommendations of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. The guidelines comprehensively cover all aspects of editing, from how the journal is managed to details about peer review and handling complaints. The majority of the recommendations are not specific to medical journals and are followed by all MDPI journals.
TOP covers transparency and openness in the reporting of research. Our journals aim to be at level 1 or 2 for all aspects of TOP. Specific requirements vary between journals and can be requested from the editorial office.
Compliance with the standards and guidelines above will be taken into account during the final decision and any discrepancies should be clearly explained by the authors. We recommend that authors highlight relevant guidelines in their cover letter.