4 March 2024
MDPI Insights: The CEO's Letter #9 - Romania, Research Integrity, Viruses

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

Reka Kovacs (Deputy Office Manager, MDPI), Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI), and Sandra Ana Spatariu (Office Manager, MDPI) at the MDPI office in Cluj, Romania.

MDPI’s Impact on Romania

In February, I visited our office in Cluj, Romania. I worked closely with our senior office managers and various teams, including the departments of training, marketing and conferences, as well as our journal relationship specialists, reviewing our service to the local scholarly community. During the visit, I also met with representatives from Babes-Bolyai University and the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. Our multifunctional Romanian office plays an important role in supporting our collaborations with the local market as well as helping to meet MDPI’s overall business needs.

Feedback and strategy meeting with a group of MDPI’s Journal Relationship Specialists at the MDPI office in Cluj, Romania.

With 22,436 articles, Romania ranks as a top 20 contributing country to MDPI’s total number of papers published as at 28 February 2024. This highlights the importance of our collaboration with Romanian-affiliated authors and the growing opportunity to support their publishing needs. MDPI is one of the few academic publishers with a significant presence in Romania, boasting over 360 colleagues across our offices in Bucharest and Cluj. We are also proud to hire colleagues from local institutions to launch their careers within publishing.

Romania ranks as a top 20 contributing country.

The Numbers: 2019–2023

MDPI has seen a healthy increase in submissions from Romanian authors over the past three years, from 8,439 in 2021 to 11,866 by end of 2023, with most submissions going to journals such as Sustainability, Medicina, Diagnostics, IJMS, Applied Sciences, and JCM. From 2019 to 2023, MDPI published articles from 32,145 authors affiliated with Romanian institutions. Over those years, we have worked with Romanian Guest Editors on nearly 3,000 occasions to support their Special Issue and Topical collections.

With more than 300 Editorial Board Members from Romania, 34 appear on the board of Mathematics, 27 on Materials, 19 on Polymers, 18 on Coatings, and 16 on Molecules, while three serve as Section Editors-in-Chief (SEiC) on our journals Coatings (3.4 IF, 4.6 Citescore), Magnetochemistry (2.7 IF, 3.5 Citescore), and Chemosensors (4.2 IF, 3.9 Citescore).

Institutional Open Access Programs

Our commitment to working with institutions is evident in Romania, where we have established eight Institutional Open Access Programs (IOAP) with esteemed institutions such as the University of Bucharest, the University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj-Napoca, and most recently the National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics.

Our growth and presence in Romania are a true testament.

We also have IOAP agreements with Babes-Bolyai University and the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, where I had the opportunity to meet senior stakeholders during my visit. Below are a few photos capturing our meeting with Prof. Radu Silaghi-Dumitrescu (Head of Faculty of Chemistry, Babes-Bolyai University) at the MDPI office in Cluj, Romania, along with a photo from our meeting with Vice Deans Nicoleta Cobarzan, Nicoleta Ilies, and Hoda Gavril, from the faculty of Civil Engineering at the Technical University of Cluj, Romania.

Our growth and presence in Romania are a true testament to the service we provide to the scholarly community and the relationships we foster in that region. We look forward to continuing to support Romanian scholars and institutions by providing a valuable and trusted experience with MDPI, the leader in open access publishing.

Impactful Research

MDPI Joins the STM Integrity Hub

MDPI has long been a supporter and partner of STM, with our involvement ranging from sponsoring and attending events to helping organize event programs. By joining the STM Integrity Hub, we aim to further our commitment to STM initiatives aimed at safeguarding the integrity of science.

“We are pleased to welcome MDPI as the 35th organisation participating in the Hub. This expansion is critical, as every new member enhances our capacity to prevent fraudulent submissions from entering the academic record.”

Joris van Rossum, Director of Research Integrity, STM

MDPI operates in full alignment with STM Integrity Hub's values of shared data and experiences. We strongly believe in collaboration and open exchange for the purposes of creating a holistic approach to support research integrity at MDPI itself and across the entire academic publishing industry. The Integrity Hub is an excellent example of how publishers can come together to jointly address industry-wide challenges related to research integrity, such as manuscripts that breach research integrity standards and paper-mills.

I look forward to our Research Integrity and Publication Ethics Team (RIPE) team immersing themselves in this initiative, exchanging information, best practices, and tools for the benefit of the entire scholarly ecosystem. We believe that ethical publishing standards should be implemented across the board, and we aim to be rigorous in our approach, addressing research integrity issues and improving the impact of published research.

Inside MDPI

MDPI Expands Research Integrity and Publication Ethics Team (RIPE)

In addition to external collaborations and joint initiatives aimed at further strengthening our commitment to research integrity, we are also enhancing our internal efforts. This includes improving our processes and guidelines and expanding our teams and departments to ensure quality assurance throughout our publishing process.

We are pleased to announce the expansion of our Research Integrity and Publication Ethics Team (RIPE) at MDPI. The RIPE team has recently welcomed new colleagues, each bringing unique skills and a personal commitment to prioritize ethical considerations in all our work.

The demand for research integrity and high ethical standards in academic publishing is steadily rising across our industry. Our expanded RIPE team will work to enhance and align our practices with industry best practices, ensuring excellence in research integrity and publication ethics.

Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI) introduces Dr. Tim Tait-Jamieson (Research Integrity Lead, MDPI) for his presentation on MDPI’s Retraction and Approval Process to a group of Journal Relationship Specialists at the MDPI office in Cluj, Romania: “The demand for research integrity and publication ethics is steadily rising across our industry.”

Introducing our Research Integrity and Publication Ethics Team

Led by Dr. Tim Tait-Jamieson (Research Integrity Lead), the RIPE team comprises Dr. Ivana Resanovic (Research Integrity Manager), Dr. Lavinia Rogojina (Research Integrity Manager), Ms. Diana Apodaritei (Research Integrity Specialist), Dr. Zoltan Mihaly (Research Integrity Specialist), Mr. Aleksandar Đukić (Research Integrity Specialist), Ms. Ana Stankovic (Research Integrity Specialist), and Ms. Anna Pena (Publication Ethics Assistant).

Please click here to access everything that you need to know about MDPI’s Research and Publication Ethics.

With this span of complementary roles, the RIPE team collaborates directly with journal editorial teams and works closely with various departments, including our Scientific Office Board and our Journal Relationship Specialists. The team’s primary objectives are to help prevent issues regarding research integrity and publication ethics during peer review, uphold MDPI’s ethics policies, adhere to industry standards, and resolve publication ethics and research integrity issues and complaints.

Quality Updates to Special Issues Oversight

At MDPI, we are committed to reviewing policies pertaining to the quality of research. In this blog post, Shaheena Patel (Communications Associate, MDPI), outlines two recent updates to MDPI journal processes. These updates pertain to Special Issue (SI) quality guidelines, in line with criteria provided by COPE and DOAJ. Alongside the SI updates, details regarding the new minor corrections policy introduced in 2024 are provided in the blog.

The two updates we implemented include greater oversight and the verification of Guest Editor credentials. These guidelines require that Editors-in-Chief (EiCs) and Editorial Board Members (EBMs) take responsibility for overseeing SIs.

PS. Thank you, James Butcher, for featuring this up in your 67th issue of the Journalogy newsletter.

Read more:

Coming Together for Science

Viruses 2024 – A World of Viruses

I am pleased to share the success of our MDPI conference Viruses 2024 – A World of Viruses, held 14-16 February, in Barcelona. With 240 registrations, this event brought together top scientists, researchers, and industry experts from 40 countries to share their findings on the latest developments in viral pathogenesis and immune responses.

Attendees gathered for the 5th edition of the Viruses’ conference, where we hosted influential keynote speeches from Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Charles M. Rice and ‘Distinguished Senior Virologist’ Prof. Luis Enjuanes, along with 14 invited speakers, 47 selected speakers, and nine flash poster presenters, to discuss the most significant issues in virology today.

Recap on the #Viruses2024 Conference

Take a look at the key moments from MDPI’s Viruses event and please join us in commemorating a gathering for global knowledge and cooperation. A heartfelt thank-you to all attendees; their passion and engagement played a crucial role in making this event an engaging success!

Below are calls to action from the keynote speakers encouraging collaboration and communication:

“There’s never been a better time than now to really take the power that we have both in terms of basic research and also in biotech and pharma to develop antiviral agents.” - Dr. Charles M. Rice, The Rockefeller University, New York, USA

“The collaboration between labs is absolutely essential. Improving initial detection and improving communication is a must for all of us working in science.” - Prof. Dr. Luis Enjuanes, National Center of Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC), Madrid, Spain

Our thanks go to our sponsors and partnering societies, our Viruses journal and editorial team, our Barcelona colleagues, and the social media, conference and other MDPI teams for making this event a memorable occasion. View the event gallery here.

Upcoming In-Person Event

24–26 April, 2024
4th MMCS – Harnessing the Power of New Drug Modalities
Location: Barcelona, Spain

Esteemed speakers at MMCS 2024 include Prof. Arun K. Ghosh, the mind behind the Darunavir molecule, and Prof. Paul Brennan, CSO of Alzheimer's Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute.

Find more upcoming MDPI events here.

Organize Your Event with MDPI’s Sciforum

Sciforum is MDPI’s platform dedicated to the organization of scientific events. In line with our mission to promote science, Sciforum supports scholars, societies, research networks, and universities at all stages of organizing in-person events, virtual events and webinars. Our platforms are efficient, user-friendly, and cost-effective. We handle all steps related to event management. Contact us for details.

Closing Thoughts

Researcher to Reader (R2R) Conference

From 20–21 February 2024, I had the pleasure of attending the Researcher to Reader (R2R) conference in London, which MDPI has proudly sponsored over the years. The conference programme offered a variety of session formats, including workshops, panel discussions, debates, interviews, presentations, and lightning talks, with opportunities to discuss relevant topics.

We take pride in supporting the scientific community, bringing researchers across the world together to network, exchange ideas and share the latest in science and publishing. In 2023, MDPI invested close to 2 million CHF in sponsoring over 2,000 scientific and publishing-related conferences worldwide.

R2R Peer Review Innovations Workshop

I found the R2R conference to be engaging, with the workshops being particularly enjoyable. My colleague Giulia Stefenelli (Chair of Scientific Office Board) and I participated in the “Peer Review Innovations” workshop, which spanned four sessions over the two days. These sessions explored the future of peer review and how we can improve the peer review process for everyone involved. Notably, the large majority of attendees expressed their opinion that peer review, as currently practiced, requires significant improvement. Together, we collaborated on potential immediate and long-term improvements and innovative processes, aiming to create an ecosystem beneficial to all stakeholders by strengthening submission systems with the aim of reducing threats and making authors more responsible for their work. We also discussed the opportunity for academic institutions to better scrutinize the quality of the work produced and submitted to journals.

Our group comprised publishers, software providers, librarians, and more, bringing diverse perspectives to the discussions. These interactions were relevant to MDPI’s ongoing conversations, providing insights to our efforts. The session also made me appreciate that MDPI is doing well, as the group discussions included the subject of various quality checks that we have already embedded in our processes, ensuring that we keep abreast of industry standards.

The need for an optimized system to incentivize the activities of editors and reviewers was also a focus of discussion, as well as the support that reviewers need from publishers via the provision of strong reports through fixed forms, questionnaires and training.

At MDPI, we are currently auditing our reviewer program to improve reviewer recognition, guidelines, and methods for identifying suitable reviewers, while maintaining our commitment to quality and timeliness.

Congratulations to Mark Carden, Conference Director, and the R2R team for organizing a productive and successful event. PS: The break times were greatly appreciated as well!

Stefan Tochev
Chief Executive Officer

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