“We are sincerely grateful to scholars who give their time to peer-review articles submitted to MDPI journals. Rigorous peer-review is the corner-stone of high quality academic publishing.”

— The MDPI editorial team.

MDPI is a open access publishing power house with 390 published journals which get listed by Web of Science and Scopus. The company is officially based in Switzerland with offices in Serbia and China. It used to be listed as a predatory journal, but was removed in 2015 on appeal.
I personally had my doubt about this outfit and want to recall an experience that seemed to solidify my concerns.

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Scientific discussion or intimidation?

Most of the editorial rejections we received were rather generic – not interested to our (unspecified) audience or not in the scope of the respective journal. However, the editors of the Journal of Experimental Biology did suprise us by disqualifying our work for questionable reasons. We expressed this surprise in a letter to the journal’s leadership and were quite surprised by the response.

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The “International Centre for Mechanical Sciences” in Udine (Italy) is a result of European integration after WWII and was setup to bring together mechanists from all over the world. The center offers summer schools regularly and I had the pleasure to attend the 27th CISM-IUTAM Summer School on “Sports Physics and Technology”.

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Publication process

Initially submitted on Nov. 16th 2021, rejected by 11 editors, our paper has finally been accepted for publication after one round of reviews on Oct. 23rd, 2022. It has been a long ride I will be sharing some insights in upcoming posts. Currently we are busy to accomodate all editorial requests and edit the proofs we have gotten two days ago.

It seems like we might be getting some public attention – the tentative publication date is Dec. 1st. Above is a little video that visualizes parts of our approach.

Odyssee 2022

first proofs returned

24. November 2022

The first set of proofs are on their way back to the editorial office. A couple of corrections still have to be made. Incredible, how we still find minor mistakes after looking at the manuscript for such a long time.

Title confirmed

17. November 2022

Some back and forth concerning the title – our original proposal was not ‘serious’ enough. The papers title will now be Foot function enabled by human walking dynamics


23. October 2022

Major revisions PR-E

22. August 2022

Finally – the reviews are in and they are quite positive. We will spend some time to reformat and edit the article and resubmit shortly.

Submission to Physical Review E

1. June 2022

Editorial rejection from JEB

31. May 2022

Submission to the Journal of Experimental Biology

19. May 2022

Rejection by Physical Review Letters

18. May 2022

We have considered your manuscript and conclude that it is not suited for Physical Review Letters. We make no judgment on the correctness or technical aspects of your work. However, from our understanding of the paper’s physics results, context, and motivation, we conclude that your paper does not meet the Physical Review Letters criteria of impact, innovation, and interest. Our criteria require a clear justification for consideration of the paper by PRL, rather than by a specialized journal. Your work appears better suited for submittal to the latter.

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Submission to Physical Review Letters

6. May 2022

Rejected by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

13. April 2022

the results of our assessment have led us to the decision to decline to consider it for publication at this time… In your case, our assessment is that your manuscript does not meet one or more of the principal aims of our journal and on this basis we expect that the likelihood that detailed review will lead to publication is low. This decision is necessarily subjective and does not reflect an evaluation of the technical quality of your work. In this case, the Editorial Board indicated your manuscript is better suited for a specialty journal. The Editorial Board member, however, encourages you to submit to PNAS Nexus,…

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Submitted to Proceedings of the National Academy of Science

1. April 2022

Rejected by Current Biology

31. March 2022

Thank you for sending us your paper “Over the hump – foot function is a key to understand global walking dynamics”, but I am afraid that, after discussion with my colleagues on our editorial team, we cannot offer to publish it in Current Biology. We appreciate the interest in the issues you are addressing, but I am sorry to say that we are not persuaded that your paper would be a strong enough candidate for publication in Current Biology. As an alternative to Current Biology, I am pleased to be able to offer you a fast direct transfer of this work to our sister journal iScience, a selective multidisciplinary open access journal from Cell Press, covering life and physical sciences.

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Submission to Current Biology

29. March 2022

Rejected by PLOS Biology

28. March 2022

Submission to PLOS Biology

25. March 2022

Rejection from Journal of the Royal Society Interface

23. March 2022

“Unfortunately, in view of the considerable pressures on publication in the journal, we are obliged to decline manuscripts that do not achieve the highest standard of referees’ report. Therefore, the Editor of J. R. Soc. Interface has decided to reject the paper. A resubmission will not be considered.” I am not including the reviews, but my response to them:

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Transfer to Journal of the Royal Society Interface

24. February 2022

“All manuscripts are assessed by a member of the Editorial Board and unfortunately, based on this assessment, your manuscript has been rejected at this stage.

On a more positive note, based on the advice of the Associate Editor/Editor who handled your manuscript we would like to offer you the opportunity to transfer your manuscript file to another Royal Society journal,”

Rejected by PRSB

18. February 2022

“All manuscripts are assessed by a member of the Editorial Board and unfortunately, based on this assessment, your manuscript has been rejected at this stage. On a more positive note, based on the advice of the Associate Editor/Editor who handled your manuscript we would like to offer you the opportunity to transfer your manuscript file to another Royal Society journal, Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

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Submitted to Proceedings of the Royal Society B

18. February 2022

Rejected by Science Advances

21. January 2022

“Because your manuscript was not given a high priority rating during our initial assessment, we have decided not to send your paper for further review. Science Advances aims to publish significant, innovative, original research that advances the frontiers of science and extends the high standards of excellence established by the Science family of journals. We receive many very interesting submissions, more than we can possibly send out for in-depth review or publish. Our decision regarding your manuscript is therefore not necessarily a reflection of the quality of your work, but rather of our constraints and goals in publishing high impact results across a broad and balanced array of disciplines.”

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Transfer to Science Advances

14. January 2022

Rejection by Nature Communications

14. January 2022

In this case, while we do not question the validity of your work, I am afraid we are not persuaded that these findings represent a sufficiently striking advance to justify publication in Nature Communications. Although we cannot offer to publish your manuscript, I recommend you transfer it to Scientific Reports…

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Nature Communications – transferred

6. January 2022

Nature Physics – rejected by editor

5. January 2022

As you may know, in deciding which papers to publish we have to make an editorial judgement about the immediacy of interest to our readers and the degree and nature of the advance demonstrated. In practice, this means that we decline a majority (and ever increasing proportion) of manuscripts without sending them to referees, in cases where we feel that, even if referees were to certify the manuscript as technically correct, there would not be a sufficiently strong case for publication in Nature Physics. I am sorry to have to say that we must take this view concerning your submission.   In the present case, we have no doubt that your mathematical description of the dynamics of human walking will be of inherent interest to fellow researchers working on this and related topics. However, I regret that we are unable to conclude that your paper provides the sort of new fundamental or general insight in physics, with sufficiently broad implications, that would excite the interest of a wide, non-specialist audience of physicists. Therefore, we feel that the paper would find a more appropriate home in a specialist journal.   Although I regret that we cannot offer to publish your paper in Nature Physics for editorial reasons, it may be appropriate for our sister journal Nature Communications, and we encourage you to transfer it there. If you would like to do this (or transfer to a different Nature Portfolio journal), a link to initiate the process can be found in the…

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Nature Physics – transferred

8. December 2021

Nature – rejected by editor

7. December 2021

As you may know, we decline a substantial proportion of manuscripts without sending them to referees, so that they may be sent elsewhere without delay. In such cases, even if referees were to certify the manuscript as technically correct, we do not believe that it represents a development of sufficient scientific impact to warrant publication in Nature. These editorial judgements are based on such considerations as the degree of advance provided, the breadth of potential interest to researchers and timeliness.   In this case, we do not feel that your paper has matched our criteria for further consideration. We certainly have no doubt that your model will be of value to others seeking a deeper understanding of human gait; and we don’t question that the insights so obtained could be relevant in a variety of therapeutic and artificial contexts. But as the broader implications of your findings have yet to be elucidated, we are unable to conclude that the paper offers the sort of striking advance that would be likely to excite the immediate interest of Nature’s broader audience. We therefore feel that the paper would find a more suitable outlet in another journal.   Please be assured that this editorial decision does not represent a criticism of the quality of your work, nor are we questioning its value to others working in this area. We hope that you will rapidly receive a more favourable response elsewhere.

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Submitted to Nature

30. November 2021

Science – rejected by editor

23. November 2021

Submission to Science

15. November 2021
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Journal of Experimental (?) Biology

Admitted, we did not see the Journal as it describes itself: “the leading primary research journal in comparative physiology“. Thus we maybe should not have been as surprised when we got our editorial rejection this morning, citing the journal’s priority as “prioritizes experimental research that addresses fundamental mechanisms of general importance to comparative physiology and biomechanics“.
In our opinion, we have presented a fundamental mechanism as well as experimental research, but it’s synthetic not comparative. The journal historically has published quite some biomechanics, which the editor admits, but states further that this research “must provide mechanistic insights that are broadly applicable in a comparative context.”

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