The Academy is Broken Stories

Journal Impact Factors (From PLOS Blog)


"Unintended Consequences


The real question for Schmid is how to get the “impact factor genie” as she calls it, “back in the box.” Why is this so important? Scientists and publishers often focus on the limitations of JIFs and the benefits of evaluating work at the article rather than journal level. However, there are more than just limitations to the JIF. According to Schmid there are very “specific and unintended consequences of the abuse of JIF as a tool for individual and institutional assessment.” Many of these, she notes, are direct; others are subtle, downstream ramifications:


Deferred communication of discoveries that might launch new fields as reviewers and editors demand more information per paper


Discouraged follow-up or augmentative studies to verify results due to over-interpretation of findings for the purpose of artificially inflating a work’s value


Misguided evaluation of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty by their individual papers rather than the combinatorial impact of their work in context


Wasted time and resources spent satisfying unnecessary demands of reviewers and editors in high-impact journals


Demoralized early career researchers forced to package an entire thesis or postdoctoral project into one comprehensive paper


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Idea No. 22