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More transparency (and less abuse) for Impact Factor?

As was reported this month in Nature, Thomson Reuters is planning changes to the calculation system for its Journal Impact Factor metric. The company says this is being done in order to address longstanding and widespread criticism that Impact Factor is affecting the behavior of researchers, causing a crush of would-be authors all trying to submit to a relatively small number of high-Impact Factor journals.

Motivated by the San Francisco Declaration On Research Assessment (DORA), signed by over 11,000 individuals and research  institutions and sent to Thomson Reuters, the move will include a number of steps, including allowing subscribers to see all articles included in the calculation of a given journals’ Impact Factor and also for users to generate their own Impact Factors for self-selected lists of articles, thus making it possible to evaluate the publication of an individual, academic department, or university.

Thomson Reuters has also gone further and announced steps taken to end gaming-of-the-system by such means as ‘citation stacking’ (excessive self-citation within a journal). Thirty-nine journals will not receive any official Journal Impact Factor this year (2014) for that reason alone, a step which was taken in 2013 as well (and at least one journal, the International Journal of Sensor Networks, has now been selected for this treatment for two years in a row).

These and other moves will hopefully rein in the reductive use of Impact Factor and it’s concomitant manipulation by individuals and institutions.

Van Noorden, R. Nature. USA http://doi:10.1038/nature.2014.15642 (2014).


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