Impact factor (I). The “Golden calf”

There is little more to write that has not already been written about impact factors and journal indexation systems.

Anyway, we still have some questions: why is scientific research evaluated this way? Is there only one kind of impact factor? Who is calculating them? What is the relationship between impact factors and journal databases? Could I do something to enhance the impact of my publications?

Let us make a list of four bullets about this discussion:

1. You have to publish your research work, but in indexed journals.

The inclusion of a journal in a relevant citation index or database , such as Web of Knowledge (Reuters), Scopus (Elsevier), EBSCOhost (EBSCO Publishing) or DOAJ (Sparc),  ensures that your research activity, if published there, meets certain minimum quality requirements and has some impact on society.

And this is significant because universities use it to select candidates or to allocate funds for research, though it is not the only criteria used, of course, they also take into account the other aspect of your scholarly curriculum, as your teaching experience or your previous activity in research centers, among others

2. There are many indicators to measure the impact of your research work.

The impact factor is a concept that emerged in the mid-twentieth century to help librarians to categorize through citations the relevance of the publications and manuscripts. It is calculated by taking the total number of citations a journal has received in the past year and dividing by the total number of articles it has published in the previous two years. The h-index, on the other hand, measures the impact of the published work of a scientist, based on the number of citations that they have received in other publications.

The best known ones are the Impact Factor (for journals Contained In Web of Knowledge /  Thomson Reuters) and the SJR (SCImago Journal Rank, for journals Contained in Scopus / Elsevier), so it is important to know that they belong to publishing companies, and they measure the impact of the manuscripts published in the journals indexed in their databases, which is a small percentage of all journals available in the world, and are estimated in a given period of time (two to three years).

Now search engines as Google Scholar Metrics or CiteSeer (financed by Microsoft Research) provide another measure (freely available online) for authors to gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications, taking all kind of journals (indexed or not) and books.

ahmad hariri

* In the image, Ahmad Hariri, professor of Neurosciences (Drake University), a ‘google scholar’ champion that will be mentioned in the second part of this article. 

** in the next article, we will discuss if impact indicators are the right system to measure the impact of a research work and what to use in advantage.

One Response to Impact factor (I). The “Golden calf”

  1. Gail. G. Gibson, Ph.D., PG, CPG, REP says:

    Impact factors of one’s research? Academic institutions normally utilize three general areas in evaluating faculty; teaching; “research”, & service, expecting excellence in two of the three areas. In addition to the ‘indexing’, I would submit that the following are ‘factors’ to be considered: external funding brought to an institution; the effective utilization of that research & research experience in one’s teaching; the professional recognition of faculty w/n his/her discipline via participation in professional organizations; & in the long term, utilization of that research as a “hook” in K-12 teacher content areas enhancement.

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