10 senior editors leave medical journal, claim publisher urged them to accept substandard papers

The senior editing team at the open access journal Nutrients resigned after their publisher allegedly pressured them to accept "mediocre" manuscripts, according to Science.

The publisher, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, emailed Nutrients' former editor-in-chief, Jon Buckley, Aug. 15 informing him he'd be replaced at the end of the year. When he resigned, nine other senior editors followed.

While MDPI said it wanted to hire someone who would "bring different ideas to the board," Mr. Buckley said this was an excuse to "push him aside because of his strict editorial policy," according to Science.

This conflict is not unheard of within the commercial open access publisher industry, since authors must pay fees for a published article. The publisher has a financial incentive to publish as many articles as possible, but academic journal editors want to maintain a reputable journal with high-quality research.

Nutrients is one of MDPI's most cited journals. The journal published more than 5,000 papers between 2009-17, including 1,300 papers last year alone. Mr. Buckley told Science the journal has also seen a large increase in low-quality manuscript submissions. To eliminate these papers, Nutrients' rejection rate would have to increase from about 55 percent to 60 to 70 percent. "We are against setting an artificial rejection rate," Franck Vazquez, MDPI CEO, told Science. "Every article must be evaluated on quality, and if more papers are good enough, more should be published."

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