browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

You’re not alone in hating impact factors

Posted by on March 31, 2015

By Rebecca Nesbit

Hands up who hates impact factors. Everyone? Then why do we still use them?

I believe one of the reasons is that we think the people at the top use them. There is no doubt some truth in this, though I was relieved to discover that many influential people are willing to speak out against them.

A journal’s impact factor – the average number of times its recent articles have been cited – is now used to assess institutions and individuals. In this video, Professor Martin Chalfie describes why this is a ‘horrible’ use for them:

Instead, we should judge a person on the quality of their research, as Sir Paul Nurse Hon FSB, director of The Francis Crick Institute, explains:

Heads of department can be found boasting about the number of high-impact journals their department has been published in, PhD students can be found lying awake wondering what hope there is for their career unless they get a ‘big’ paper. However, rest assured, you don’t actually need a ‘high-impact’ publication for your Nobel Prize.

Martin Chalfie, who received his Nobel Prize in 2008 for his work on green fluorescent protein, did his own study on where prize-awarded research was first published. I’m pleased to report that it seems quite a few journals have had that honour.

Let’s hope that Nobel Laureate Joe Goldstein is correct when he predicts our obsession with impact factors will fade away. Good riddance!

Comments are closed.