30 November 2023
MDPI Insights: The CEO’s Letter #6 - MDPI Spain Summit and ResearchGate

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

MDPI Spain Summit

Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI) gives the opening speech at the MDPI Spain Summit.

On Friday 10 November 2023 I was in Barcelona, Spain, to deliver the opening presentation and participate in a panel at MDPI’s Spain Summit, a two-day event, inspired by our salon events in China.

With 16 Editors-in-Chief (EiCs) and 20 Editorial Board Members (EBMs) in attendance, the event, organized by our conference team and Barcelona office, featured presentations on open access (OA), MDPI, and publishing market trends in Spain.

The event provided a great opportunity to engage with stakeholders from various MDPI journals, including Nutrients, Vaccines, Buildings, IJMS, and others. We were able to gather feedback and have open conversations around manuscript quality, the peer-review process, and journal development, as well as accreditation agencies.

The main objective of this Summit was to bring together Editors representing MDPI journals across various disciplines within Spanish universities and research centers, primarily from the Barcelona area. The aim was to facilitate an open and fruitful discussion regarding the development of their journals, the future of OA in Spain, and to provide meaningful interactions and networking opportunities.

Connecting with Editorial Board Members

Stefan Tochev in conversation with Summit participants: "Our EBMs are passionate about the journals they serve."

Interacting with our EBMs in person provides a valuable opportunity to show how important it is to us to connect with them, hear their perspectives on their journals and learn more about their own experience collaborating with MDPI.

From my conversations, it was clear that our EBMs are passionate about the journals they serve. I know the advice they provide may sometimes involve just small tweaks, but these can lead to important improvements. As the saying goes, small hinges swing open big doors.

As at November 2023, MDPI has over 6,300 EBMs affiliated with Spanish institutions, with more than 30 of them serving as EiCs or section EiCs. Furthermore, over 68,000 Spanish scholars have contributed as reviewers in MDPI journals.

Open Access in Spain

In 2023, Spain implemented legislation mandating immediate OA for all publicly funded research, aligning with the EU’s Plan S initiative to expedite the transition to OA. The Spanish government also approved a four-year, €23.8 million annual budget for the first national OA strategy, aiming to make publicly funded research freely accessible upon publication. This strategy aims to strengthen the quality and transparency of research in Spain, and to help promote movement towards a digital, low-carbon economy.

For further details of Spain's OA policy and the history of government mandates, click here.

Spain has already seen a notable decline in subscription-only articles, decreasing by 62% over a 10-year period, while gold OA increased by 42%. Green OA slightly decreased, suggesting a shift towards publishing in gold OA journals rather than traditional subscription-based ones. Here are some statistics from Scopus. 

A big thank-you to the various MDPI teams, including our conference team and the Barcelona office, for organizing this very successful event!

MDPI colleagues from various offices gathered to host and support the first MDPI Spain Summit, in Barcelona, Spain.

I think this type of gathering has the potential to become an annual event in various locations. For example, Manchester could be an option, as we have over 30 EiCs and over 3,000 EBMs in the UK, a top market for MDPI that publishes high-quality research.

Impactful Research

769 Editorial Board Members of MDPI Journals Recognized as Highly Cited Researchers in 2023

Congratulations to our 769 Editorial Board Members from 40 countries/territories who have been awarded Highly Cited Researcher status for 2023 by Clarivate. This recognition is based on their outstanding scientific research contributions and significant influence in various fields, as evidenced by Web of Science data.

Click here to view the full list of 769 Editorial Board Members.

Clarivate's Highly Cited ResearchersTM list identifies individuals with exceptional impact in scientific and social science domains over the past decade. Their papers rank in the top 1% of citations in 21 fields analysed in ‘Essential Science Indicators,’ showcasing their substantial influence.

This year, 7,125 Highly Cited Researcher 2023 designations were issued to 6,849 individuals from 67 countries, representing just 1 in 1,000 researchers worldwide.

These researchers demonstrate exceptional influence, representing a small fraction of contributors pushing the boundaries of knowledge, contributing to global well-being, sustainability, and security.

Congratulations to these scholars for their remarkable achievement: we are honoured to have them on board with our journals!

Inside MDPI

Corporate Marketing and Communications Strategy Session

Members of MDPI’s Corporate Marketing & Communications team.

For the past few years, I have led the Corporate Marketing & Communications department in our annual strategy session.

This typically involves 2–3 days of focused sessions covering key topics including budgeting, hiring targets, campaign reviews, and planning for the upcoming year, department strategy, and structure.

We are constantly exploring ways to optimize the Corporate Marketing & Communications department to support MDPI’s primary objectives and better convey the MDPI story while serving the scholarly community.

The strategy session also serves as a team-building activity, during which the team voted on bowling!

Strategy Session

In this strategy session, we looked at how to align our teams in order to better streamline our content with our campaigns, build a dedicated marketing team to strategically support our core MDPI products, expand our communications teams and functionalities to focus on company-critical campaigns and press releases, align our new brand design system with our marketing initiatives, set up a community and engagement team to support various teams with their outreach and communication efforts, and increase our use of data in the evaluation of campaign performance.

To grow in these areas, we will be hiring for various positions, including those of Public Relations Manager, Communications Manager, Internal Communications Manager, Campaign Manager, Marketing Associate, and Editorial Engagement Manager.

I am grateful for the way our Corporate Marketing & Communications department has grown and gelled over the years, and I look forward to supporting the department teams and their ideas for the future.

Coming Together for Science

ResearchGate and MDPI Partner to Boost the Visibility of Open Access Content through Journal Home

Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI) and Sören Hofmayer (Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, ResearchGate) meet in Berlin, Germany to take their ongoing discussion further.

When I assumed the role of CEO at MDPI, my primary focus was to initiate the building of essential partnerships and collaborations within our industry. After all, I am a firm believer in achieving our goals by helping others achieve theirs and focusing on co-opetition wherever there is an opportunity. I first touched on the notion of co-opetition in MDPI Insights: The CEO's Letter #3, particularly when discussing collaborations with Elsevier.

In light of this, Sören Hofmayer (Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at ResearchGate) and I connected recently to continue a discussion that had been ongoing for months. I was quickly brought up to speed and felt there was an opportunity for MDPI journals to pilot the Journal Home service that ResearchGate had launched. This would provide a new way for MDPI to engage with authors and readers and amplify the visibility of our journals.

While I receive many offers and opportunities for discussions with vendors, I am a firm believer that timing is everything, and in this case, the time for us is now. Sören and I met in person during my recent visit to Berlin and decided to proceed with piloting ten MDPI journals with the Journal Home service.

The press release below provides further details.

Press Release: Berlin (Germany) and Basel (Switzerland), 15 November 2023

ResearchGate, the professional network for researchers, and MDPI, the largest open access publisher in the world and a pioneer in open access publishing, today announced a partnership that will see ten of MDPI’s open access journals benefit from an enhanced presence on ResearchGate through its innovative Journal Home offering.  

This new partnership will expand the reach and visibility of MDPI’s participating flagship journals with ResearchGate’s highly relevant community of more than 25 million researchers globally.

Around 210,000 version-of-record articles from these 10 titles will be readily available on ResearchGate, including the full archive material and all new articles as they are published. These journals also benefit from enhanced brand visibility, with dedicated journal profiles, prominent representation on all associated article pages and all relevant touchpoints across the ResearchGate network – keeping the journals top-of-mind with their reader and author audiences. All articles covered by the new partnership will automatically be added to the authors’ publication records in ResearchGate. This not only reduces MDPI authors’ needs for direct management but also offers them valuable insights into the impact of their work, including data about readership and citations.

Closing Thoughts

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month

Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI) listening to music as he writes at a coffee shop in Basel, Switzerland.

November is dedicated to raising awareness of various men’s health issues. I have been fortunate to have positive male role models in my life, and I strive to share my experiences with others.

I used to take part in Movember, growing my moustache throughout November to raise awareness and funds and to help “change the face of men’s health.” With male family and friends impacted by physical and mental health issues, I have recently become more interested in men’s overall well-being.

Men often face stigma involving the perceived need always to be strong and have things figured out. Recently, I’ve had meaningful conversations with male friends and colleagues about issues we rarely discuss, and it was a positive experience.

Various factors impact men’s health and well-being, all too easily leading to risky health behaviours including a lack of health awareness, poor health education, and negative, culturally induced, behaviour patterns in our work and personal lives. I hope we can break down these barriers in our work environment.

Healthy men help build healthy families and a healthy society

Men are less likely than women to seek help with their physical and mental health struggles. This is a reminder to prioritize your overall well-being. I hope that as men, we will continue to open up to one another, becoming vulnerable in order to share what we are going through. By sharing and by supporting each other, we can learn and grow together. You are not alone, and when you fall, you can still get up and stand tall.

From one broski to another, you are loved and appreciated. I hope this mindset carries into December and beyond.


Our content team recently released a handful of articles on mindfulness, a practice that I believe provides a good opportunity for stress release and self-reflection:

Stefan Tochev
Chief Executive Officer

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