Publication data from Finnish higher education institutions, university hospitals and research institutes show that the number of publications in MDPI journals has started to decrease in 2022.
The number of publications in the journals of major open access publishers, especially MDPI and Frontiers, has increased rapidly over the past few years, both in Finland and internationally. In Finland alone, the number of articles published in MDPI journals has increased more than tenfold during 2016–2021. However, the latest publication data from 2022 shows that the number of publications in MDPI journals has decreased for the first time (Figure 1).
Based on the publication data reported by Finnish higher education institutions, university hospitals and research institutes, slightly less articles were published in MDPI journals in 2022 compared to 2021: Almost 2800 articles were published in MDPI journals in 2021, and 2400 articles in 2022. In contrast, the number of publications in Frontiers journals has continued to increase. For Hindawi, which had almost the same publication volume as MDPI and Frontiers in 2016, publication volume has decreased and it's share of publications is very small.
The same trend can also be seen internationally. The Scholarly Kitchen blog post presents statistics for the MDPI journal International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). The journal was removed from the Web of Science database in March 2023 and this significantly reduced the number of articles published in the journal: The number of published articles fell immediately by 88% and has since remained at that level. The decrease is probably explained by the fact that, due to removal, the IJERPH no longer has a Journal Impact Factor. According to the blog post, the number of publications in other MDPI journals has also decreased by an average of 23% in 2023. Since the article processing charge (APC) based business model is dependent on publication volume, a decrease in the number of published articles has a significant impact on the company's revenue.
In Finland, the number of publications in Frontiers journals has continued to increased but based on the Scholarly Kitchen blog post the number of articles published by Frontiers has declined internationally.
Based on the APC data reported to the international Open APC service by Finnish research organisations, MDPI has maintained its position as the largest publisher in 2022 (Figure 2). However, the total amount of APCs paid to MDPI and reported to Open APC has almost halved since 2021, when it was 861 727 euros. This is not solely explained by the decrease in the number of publications as not all APCs are reported in the Open APC service. Also, no new contracts with significant OA benefits were signed in 2022.
MDPI, Frontiers and Hindawi have provided researchers publication channels for rapid open access publication, but what is the future for them and other similar publishers?
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Written by Anna-Kaarina Linna and Elina Pylvänäinen.
Photo: Pixabay, Pexells.