The decreasing importance of the Impact Factor

Earlier today, ARIC’s (www.aricjournal.com) publisher (BioMed Central) signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).

Eighteen years ago, when the start of open access changed the world of scientific publishing and distribution of research, the “new” open access journals continued to rely on a “quality measure” of their journals that is in place since 1975; the Impact Factor (IF). A measure based on the number of citations over the number of citable articles.

Many academic institutions judge(d) the academic merit of their researchers by IF points gathered, rather than the quality of their work. Consequently, researchers select a journal for their submission by the IF.  Still, as BMC stated in todays announcement: “over-reliance on the IF has never felt right to us. No one metric should be the be-all-and-end-all”.  Therefore, many journals including ARIC, include Altmetrics on their articles, based on downloads, Twitter, blog posts and other (social) media use. By the way, Preeti Malani explained Altimetrics nicely in the meet-the-expert session at ECCMID we gave together.  Other metric scores are presently implemented by Elsevier.

BMC wants to go further by signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment  and thereby pledging to “greatly reduce emphasis on the journal Impact Factor as a promotional tool by presenting the metric in the context of a variety of journal-based metrics”.  For all those still relying on IF scores for their academic career, don’t worry, BMC will not entirely cease promoting the IF, but look forward to see more and new metric scores.

 

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