The MDPI Editorial Process

MDPI operates a rigorous and transparent peer-review process that aims to maximize quality. Peer-review is handled by researchers and scholars.

We believe that peer-review needs to be efficient, rigorous, and fair for everyone involved.

In most MDPI journals, peer-review 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 appointing new Editorial Board members.

A summary of the editorial process is given in the flowchart below.


Figure 1.

The MDPI editorial process. 


The following provides notes on each step.

Pre-check

Immediately after submission, the journal’s Managing Editor will perform an initial check to assess:

  • Overall suitability of the manuscript to the journal/section/Special Issue;
  • Manuscript adherence to high quality research and ethical standards;
  • Standards of rigor to qualify for further review.

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 and of regular submissions if the Editor-in-Chief allows, will be notified of the submission and invited to perform a check and recommend reviewers. Academic editors can decide to continue with the peer-review process, reject a manuscript, or request revisions before peer-review.

Guest Editors of Special Issues are not able to take decisions regarding their own manuscripts submitted to their Special Issue, as this would constitute a conflict of interest. An Editorial Board member will instead be responsible for decision making. The Guest Editor will be unable to access the review process except in their role as author. Similarly, Editors-in-Chief, or other Editorial Board members are not able to access the review process of their manuscript except in their role as author.

Peer-review

From submission to final decision or publication, one dedicated MDPI staff member coordinates the review process and serves as the main point of contact for authors, academic editors and 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 MDPI journals operate double-blind peer-review, where in addition to the author not knowing the identity of the reviewer, the reviewer is unaware of the author’s identity.

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.

Authors can recommend potential reviewers. MDPI staff ensure that there are no potential conflicts of interest and will not consider those with competing interests. 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 of the manuscript. The editorial team will respect these requests as long as they do not interfere with the objective and thorough assessment of the submission.

If the journal has a reviewer board, these reviewers could apply to review a submitted manuscript should the authors agree with this option during submission.

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.

Reviewers who accept to review a manuscript are expected to:

  • Have the necessary expertise to judge manuscript quality;
  • Provide quality review reports and remain responsive throughout peer-review;
  • Maintain standards of professionalism and ethics.

Reviewers who accept a review invitation are provided 7–10 days to write their review via our online platform, SuSy. Extensions can be granted on request.

For the review of a revised manuscript, reviewers are asked to provide their report within three days. Extensions can also be granted on request.

To assist academic editors, MDPI staff handle all communication with reviewers, authors, and the external editor. Academic editors can check the status of manuscripts and the identity of reviewers at any time, and are able to discuss manuscript review at any stage with MDPI staff.

Open Peer-Review Option

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. We encourage authors to choose open review. Further information can be found on our blog.

Revision

In cases where only minor or major revisions are recommended, MDPI staff will request that the author revise the paper before referring to the academic editor. In cases of conflicting review reports, or where there are one or more recommendations for rejection, the academic editor will be requested for their judgement before a decision about revisions is communicated to authors.

Revised versions of manuscripts may or may not be sent to reviewers, depending on whether the reviewer requested to see the revised version. By default, reviewers who request major revisions or recommend rejection will be sent the revised manuscript. All reviewers can access the most recent version of the manuscript via SuSy.

A maximum of two rounds of major revision per manuscript is normally provided. If more rounds are required according to the reviewers, MDPI staff request a decision from the academic editor.

Editor Decision

Acceptance decisions on manuscripts can be taken by the academic editor after peer-review once a minimum of two review reports have been received. Acceptance decisions are taken by an academic editor (the Editor-in-Chief, a Guest Editor, or another suitable Editorial Board member). Guest Editors are not able to take decisions on their own papers which will instead be assigned to a suitable Editorial Board member. When making a 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 academic editor can select from the following options: Accept in current form, accept with minor revisions, reject and decline resubmission, reject but encourage resubmission, ask author for revision, or ask for an additional reviewer.

Reviewers make recommendations, and the Editors-in-Chief or academic editors are free to disagree with their views. If they do so, they should justify their decision for the benefit of the authors and reviewers.

In some instances, an academic editor supports a decision of manuscript acceptance despite a reviewer recommendation to reject. MDPI staff will seek a second independent opinion from an Editorial Board member or the Editor-in-Chief before communicating a final decision to the authors.

Articles can only be accepted for publication by an academic editor. Employed MDPI staff then inform authors. MDPI staff never take acceptance decisions on papers.

MDPI staff or Editorial Board members (including Editors-in-Chief) are not involved in the processing of their own academic work. Their submissions are assigned and revised by at least two independent reviewers. Decisions are made by other Editorial Board members who do not have a conflict of interest with the authors.

MDPI is a signatory of the 2012 San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). We aim to publish all manuscripts that are scientifically correct, and do not artificially increase journal rejection rates, allowing the reader community at large to define impact.

Production

MDPI’s in-house teams perform 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 offer authors an English editing service for an additional fee (with authors’ prior approval). The authors are also free to use other English editing services, or consult a native English-speaking colleague—the latter being our preferred option.

Publication Ethics

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 behavior by authors, reviewers, or editors. All MDPI editorial staff are trained in how to detect and respond to ethical problems.

Details on ethical considerations for submitting papers can be found in the instructions for authors of journals (see here, for example). MDPI has a published policy on Corrections and Retractions.

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. 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.

Publishing Standards and Guidelines

MDPI follow the following guidelines and standards for its journals:

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.

The CONSORT statement covers reporting of randomized, controlled trials. We encourage authors to verify their work against the checklist and flow diagram and upload them with their submission.

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.

PRISMA covers systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Authors are recommended to complete the checklist and flow diagram and include it with their submission.

ARRIVE contains guidelines for reporting in vivo experiments. Authors are recommended to verify their work against the checklist and include it with their submission.

iThenticate is an industry-standard software for plagiarism detection. Used during the first screening of a manuscript or pre-check, it can also be used at any stage of the peer-review process and especially before acceptance of a manuscript for publication.

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.

Editorial Independence

All articles published by MDPI are peer-reviewed and assessed by our independent Editorial Boards, and MDPI staff are not involved in decisions to accept manuscripts. When making a decision, we expect the academic editor to make it based solely upon:

  • The suitability of selected reviewers;
  • Adequacy of reviewer comments and author response;
  • Overall scientific quality of the paper.

In all of our journals and in every aspect of our operation, MDPI policies are informed by the mission to make science and research findings open and accessible as widely and rapidly as possible.

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