Thursday, January 21, 2010

Impact Factors Suck

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Impact factors suck. They can be gamed, and treacherously so at that, and they have little to no bearing on the scientific quality of a journal or the articles therein. Read this article for some examples, and indubitably there are numerous smaller (and thus harder to catch) bad practices all over the place. We need to be more discriminating in what journals we consider good, and I feel like screaming every time I hear somebody using a journal's impact factor as a reason to submit there. (And in some fields, such as pure mathematics, the citations often don't tell the real story anyway!) And I feel like screaming even louder whenever I hear about impact factors of the journals in which in author is published being used for hiring, promotion, tenure, or anything else that can be very meaningful to people.

When I publish a paper, I try to choose journals whose papers I actually read or that I feel will reach the audience I want to reach---independent of numbers, etc.

Let's spread the word!

(Tip of the cap to Predrag Cvitanovic.)

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