Via Stephen's Web and ACRLog comes a pointer to a Wall Street Journal article from the title above. The article reports that some journals are trying to boost their impact factors by asking (telling?) authors of papers to cite more articles from that journal. When a scientific journal editor says something like:
...when we edit a paper...we sometimes ask authors to ensure that the relevant literature is cited... I can state unequivocally that we do not attempt to manipulate the JTT's impact factor. For a start, I wouldn't know how to.You know that something's up. If a journal editor doesn't understand impact factors well enough to manipulate them, then who does?
I've blogged on journal rankings before. Taken out of context, impact factors don't tell much. For example, the Journal article says that an impact factor below 2 is "low". But this depends on the size of the field -- fewer researchers mean fewer citations -- not quality.