Thursday, June 08, 2006

Gaming impact factors

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.

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  1. I prefer the google scholar approach. Search for papers published where you want to publish... then look for highly cited papers, and see for yourself.

  2. There's no substitute for simple familiarity with the journals and their audiences. When choosing a publishing venue, this is "easy," as you should already be familiar with the literature and where it was published. When trying to evaluate publications in unfamiliar venues (e.g., for hiring), that's not as easy, since there may not be anyone around who is familiar with the journal.