2 April 2024
MDPI Insights: The CEO's Letter #10 - South Korea, IWD, U2A, Japan

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

Left to right: Dr. Jisuk Kang (Scientific Officer, MDPI), Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI), and Dr. Giulia Stefenelli (Chair of Scientific Office Board, MDPI), during media meetings at Prain Agency office in Seoul, South Korea.

Visit to Seoul, South Korea

During my recent visit to South Korea, I had the privilege of meeting various stakeholders, including representatives of government, research institutions, and academia, to understand their needs and communicate MDPI’s commitment to accessible science. Accompanied by my colleagues Dr. Giulia Stefenelli and Dr. Jisuk Kang, I engaged with the Korean scientific community, which is increasingly embracing open access (OA).

As the leading OA publisher in South Korea, MDPI is trusted by local authors and in 2023 enjoyed an approximately 30% share of the OA market. South Korea ranks sixth globally for MDPI in terms of research papers submitted and published.

MDPI and South Korea by Numbers

As at 30 March, over 76,000 MDPI articles have been authored by individuals affiliated with Korean institutions. We have over 1,800 active editorial board members (EBMs) from South Korea, with more than 880 EBMs having an H-index between 26 and 50, including 10 serving as Chief Editors.

“South Korea is the sixth-largest contributor to our total publications”

Over the past five years (2019–2023), nearly 120,000 authors affiliated with South Korean institutes have published with MDPI. Specifically in 2023, we received approximately 25,000 submissions from South Korean authors, publishing close to 13,000 articles, resulting in a rejection rate of 47.4%, which is not far below MDPI’s overall rejection rate of 56.4% in 2023.

Institutional Partnerships with South Korea

I am pleased to share that MDPI has more than 825 institutional partnerships worldwide, with 12 in South Korea, including Kyunghee University, Chung-Ang University, and Inha University, among others.

Left to right: Dr. Jisuk Kang (Scientific Officer, MDPI), Dr. Giulia Stefenelli (Chair of Scientific Office Board, MDPI), and Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI) fielding media questions at Prain PR Agency office in Seoul, South Korea.

Over the past three years (2021–2023), we have had some of the most prestigious academic universities ranked among the top 10 Korean institutions publishing with MDPI. Seoul National University had the highest number of publications with MDPI during those three years, publishing nearly 6,000 papers. Universities such as Korea University and Yonsei University also rank among the top 10 Korean institutions publishing with MDPI.

MDPI Hosts Seminar for Academia and Media

As the world’s leading OA publisher, MDPI is actively democratizing science. This is reflected in the seminars we hosted on 21 March to address questions about our editorial processes and ethical standards. The visit garnered media coverage, reflecting our mission to providing high-quality services and fostering open dialogue in the community.

“MDPI is actively democratizing science”

MDPI in the News

Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI) leading a seminar on OA and MDPI at Prain PR Agency office in Seoul, South Korea.

Media coverage generated by our visit to Seoul included the following stories:

“Open access is an unstoppable trend…it will lead the development of the knowledge ecosystem.”

“Papers that the public needs, anyone can use quickly… low-quality publishing is a misunderstanding.”

I greatly appreciate the contributions of everyone who took the time to meet with us, share their stories, and hold us accountable for continuing to provide high-quality publishing services while identifying areas for improvement. I am also excited to announce that we have opened an MDPI office in Seoul and will release a press release on, with details, by the end April 2024. The purpose of the office is to establish a local presence to connect with and support the South Korean academic community through institutional partnerships, conferences, author workshops, stakeholder communications, and more.

Impactful Research

Featured Articles on Women’s Leadership and Healthcare

In celebration of International Women’s Day (8 March 2024), MDPI curated a collection of research articles on various topics, including women’s leadership, reproductive health, preventive healthcare, and a selection of articles from our journal Women.

Women’s Leadership

Women’s Reproductive Health

Women’s Preventive Healthcare

Featured Articles in MDPI Journal Women

Below are a few articles from Women, our journal focused on women’s health, the social determinants of health, and the healthcare system that serves women. The aim of Women is to encourage academics to publish their experimental and theoretical results in detail, to aid reproducibility, and in an engaging style, to aid comprehensibility.

Inside MDPI


Championing Women’s Healthcare and Access to Healthcare Information

MDPI colleagues from our offices joined in celebrating #IWD2024. In doing so, we emphasized key missions that encompass:

  • Empowering women to assume leadership and decision-making roles in both business and science.
  • Helping women and girls make informed decisions about their health.
  • Recruiting and developing female talent and fostering inclusive workplace environments.

“We are thrilled to recognize the accomplishments of women scientists”

I am proud to see our colleagues enthusiastically supporting the International Women’s Day call to ‘Inspire Inclusion!’ The heart-hands in the collage below symbolize our appreciation of the achievements of women researchers and the recognition of the trailblazers who have courageously made a mark on societies past and present.

We are thrilled to recognize the accomplishments of women scientists through our many MDPI awards and by highlighting success stories. As inspirational figures, female scientists are paving the way for the next generation of women aspiring to pursue careers in engineering, life sciences, computing, and various other STEM fields.

“I consider myself lucky because I work with incredibly talented women who inspire me every day.”
– Dr. Alessandra Pasut, Winner of MDPI's ‘Biology 2023 Young Investigator Award’

“It’s really important to find a supportive and enabling environment in which to do your science; it would have a big impact on you as a person and on your scientific outputs.”
– Dr. Rhea Longley, Winner of the ‘Pathogens 2023 Young Investigator Award’

Open-access publishing, in particular, allows early-career women researchers to share their work more widely, potentially attracting mentorship opportunities and collaborations. This support is crucial for career development and advancement.

Coming Together for Science

MDPI Joins United2Act in Collective Fight to Stop Paper Mills

In my February 2024 CEO Letter, I highlighted some of our recent initiatives aimed at bolstering our commitment to research integrity, including joining the STM Integrity Hub and expanding our Research Integrity and Publication Ethics team (RIPE). Continuing our efforts in coming together for science, I am pleased to share our participation in the United2Act initiative.

The text below is taken from our official announcement:

United2Act represents an international group of stakeholders in the publishing industry committed to addressing the collective challenge posed to research integrity by paper mills.

Scientists and academic publishers have increasingly noted the alarming proliferation of paper mills, recognized as fraudulent entities seeking to manipulate the publication process for financial profit. These entities engage in fraudulent practices such as falsifying or fabricating data, selling co-authorship of fake papers, manipulating peer review, and including inappropriate citations. These actions pose a significant threat to the integrity of the scholarly record, prompting widespread concern among those involved in the academic community.

MDPI has been actively contributing to combat the undermining of the scientific record. Our editors employ a set of tools to detect potential ethical breaches within a manuscript and to tackle the issue of fake papers.

United2Act’s consensus statement is the outcome of a virtual summit held in May 2023. It involved the participation of research bodies, publishers, researchers/sleuths, universities, and publishing infrastructure from 15 countries and resulted in a Consensus Statement outlining five key areas of action for all stakeholders:

  • Education and awareness
  • Improve post-publication corrections
  • Facilitate and organise research on paper mills
  • Enable the development of trust markers
  • Facilitate dialogue between stakeholders

MDPI is committed to promoting transparency and integrity in scholarly publishing and is continuing to work closely with the scientific community toward this goal.

Closing Thoughts

Left to right: Ryo Hirayama (Marketing Specialist, MDPI), Takashi Sasabe (Marketing Specialist, MDPI), Dr. Giulia Stefenelli (Chair of Scientific Office Board, MDPI), Dr. Izumi Yamamoto (Marketing Manager, MDPI), and Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI), at MDPI’s office in Tokyo, Japan.

Visit to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan

In March, I had the opportunity to visit our Tokyo office and engage with stakeholders in Tokyo and Kyoto. During the visit, I also recorded a video message to welcome Japanese scholars working with MDPI and to highlight our operations in Japan.

We held meetings with Editors-in-Chief, librarians, scholars, and external consultants to gather feedback on our efforts to enhance our reputation and explore additional steps we can take in that direction. Japan's rich cultural heritage, characterized by tradition, respect, and formality, provided valuable insights into meeting the publishing needs specific to Japan.

Japan’s Open Access statistics

Over the years, we have seen a shift from subscription-only to gold OA publishing in Japan, despite the lack of an official mandate. Here are some statistics:

  • 2012: 68% of articles were subscription-only, 6% were green Open Access, and 8% were gold Open Access.
  • 2016: 55% of articles were subscription-only, 6% were green Open Access, and 20% were gold Open Access.
  • 2022: 43% of articles were subscription-only, 7% were green Open Access, and 39% were gold Open Access.

To learn more about the history of OA in Japan as well as about future trends, please read this blog post.

“Japan is the ninth-largest contributor to our total publications”

Left to right: Stefan Tochev (CEO, MDPI), Dr. Izumi Yamamoto (Marketing Manager, MDPI), and Dr. Giulia Stefenelli (Chair of Scientific Office Board, MDPI) visiting Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan.

MDPI and Japan by Numbers

As at 1 April, over 50,000 MDPI articles have been authored by scholars affiliated with Japanese institutions, making the country the ninth-largest contributor to our total publications. Over the past three years (2020–2023), nearly 90,000 authors affiliated with Japanese institutes have published with MDPI, and we have collaborated with over 4,600 Guest Editors from Japan.

In 2023, we published over 8,200 papers from authors associated with Japanese institutions. MDPI collaborates with 41 institutional partnerships in Japan, including the University of Tokyo, Hokkaido University, and Nagoya University. We have over 2,100 active EBMs from Japan, more than 1,050 EBMs having an H-index between 26 and 50, including 13 serving as Editors-in-Chief.

General Feedback – a side note

A general takeaway from our discussions with stakeholders from around the world is that negative perceptions of MDPI often stem from misinformation, misconceptions, or misunderstandings about MDPI and our practices. While we acknowledge our mistakes and work diligently to address them, maintaining a strong editorial procedure and robust peer-review process, I find that educating stakeholders about our how we do what we do and our ongoing improvements tends to help shift opinions.

That said, we recognize the importance of addressing individual concerns. We take feedback seriously and are continuously working to get better while not compromising the core principles that millions of authors appreciate about MDPI.

Stefan Tochev
Chief Executive Officer

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