Are you obsessed with publishing in high ranking journals such as Cell or Science? Do you gloss over your works that have been published in low ranked journals when talking with colleagues or attending a job interview? If the answer is yes, you are not alone.
Since its invention approximately 60 years ago, the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) has been used to assess the quality of academic literature and the influence of scientific papers on the scientific community. The JIF was proposed by Eugene Garfield in the early 1950s and originally published by his Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) as a subscription buying tool for academic and medical librarians. The JIF assigns a score to scientific journals based on the average number of citations received in a year per paper published in the journal during the two preceding years. It has since become the authority on which journals are considered top tier publications are therefore premiere space for scientists wishing to best publicize their work and gain notoriety.
Unfortunately, the JIF has also become a tool used to ascertain a scientist’s worth and can often be a determining factor in the levels of funding they are to receive. This is an unfortunate turn of events since the JIF contains many deficiencies such as glossing over differences between fields, and lumping primary research articles in with much more easily cited review articles. As such, researchers that publish quality work in lower ranked journals are often at a disadvantage compared to those publishing secondary research in higher ranking journals.
In order to “protest” and counter this phenomenon, a group of publishers from both high impact and low impact journals have formed the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) which aims to lower the influence of the JIF on assessing scientific merit.
Dora has released 18 principles which are geared towards accomplishing these goals. Some of the recommendations that stand out the most include:
- JIF should not be used to measure quality of individual articles or to asses an individual scientist’s contributions, or in hiring, promotion or funding decisions
- Funding agencies should place more weight on the scientific content of a paper than its JIF
- Scientific content of a paper should be considered a more important hiring decision than the JIF
- A call for organizations to be open and transparent by providing data and methods used to calculate all metrics
- Researchers should challenge research assessment practices that rely inappropriately on JIF
To download the full list of recommendations visit http://am.ascb.org/dora/files/SFDeclarationFINAL.pdf.