Impact factors, ouch!

Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief of Science, wrote an editorial last month on why journal impact factors should not be used to judge the work of individual scientists. Among other things, the distribution of paper citations is so skewed that the mean number of citations per paper in a journal is essentially meaningless, and the two-year time window used to calculate journal impact factors introduces a bias in favour of some fields of research and against others. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment of 2012/2013 requests, among other things, that agencies “do not use journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.”


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