I have previously described the difficulty that we have had publishing in semantic web conferences (http://www.russet.org.uk/blog/2157); the two main conferences (ESWC and ISWC) both publish with Springer-Verlag, and so provide no open access option.
Although the contents of the paper has been made available now both through arXiv and here, we decided that in the middle of REF madness, it did not make sense to let the work lie there. So, where to publish?
Well, I was inspired by Ross Mounce post (http://rossmounce.co.uk/2012/08/30/a-visualization-of-gold-open-access-options/) showing the various open access options, showing the entertainingly large gap between the price of open access from different publishers; the gap should only be a surprise to those with little understanding of economics; prices relate to what the market can bear and not what a service costs to provide, I have described previously (http://www.russet.org.uk/blog/2248). At the top left of the graph (most permissive license, cheapest article charges) comes MDPI, although the second version of the plot shows cheaper options (http://rossmounce.co.uk/2012/09/04/the-gold-oa-plot-v0-2/).
I have never published with MDPI before, but I have recently reviewed a paper for them; I am very selective with reviewing these days, but the paper sounded interesting and I had never heard of Future Internet before. So, this seemed like a reasonable bet. Accordingly the paper has just been published and come complete with (10.3390/fi4041004); a dubious badge of honour if ever there was one (http://www.russet.org.uk/blog/1849).
So, how was the experience? On the whole I think it was very positive. The review period was pretty impressive, with a turn around of relatively few days; they seem to have taken the approach to ask reviewers to say no, if they cannot return within a short time. Ironically, our own response to the reviews was much longer delayed by the start of term work bomb, stretching to well over a month. Type setting was efficient and seems to have be done reasonably; this is not a given as previous experience has shown (http://www.russet.org.uk/blog/2170).
There are only two things that I dislike; first they offer full-text only as PDF. I use PDFs only under exceptional circumstances these days; the viewers are all clunky and horrible, and total fail when moving between different screen sizes. Especially, given that MDPI offers an XML download, the lack of full-text HTML is a bit surprising. And slightly ironic for a paper discussing web publication.
Secondly, they seem to have adopted a strange policy with respect to publication/acceptance dates. Our original submission recieved this reply:
Thank you very much for your manuscript: Manuscript ID: futureinternet-22379 Type of manuscript: Article Title: Three Steps to Heaven: Semantic Publishing in a Real World Workflow Authors: Phillip Lord *, Simon Cockell, Robert Stevens Received: 17 August 2012
Yet, by the time the paper was published our submission date has morphed into 22 September 2012. Now we were told that this might happen — apparently, this is their policy if revisions last over a month. Very strange, and I cannot really think of a good reason for not having a submission date which is the same as the date of the submission.
Of course, this does not worry me that much; the work was “submitted” and published on 12th April here (http://www.russet.org.uk/blog/2054). I consider this to be the canonical version of my work (http://www.russet.org.uk/blog/2170). However, as a mechanism for secondary publication, I think, Future Internet seems a reasonable bet.