Our harmful addiction to impact factors

impact-factor-jhep-2014-200pxHow do we recognize a good scientist? There is an entire industry — bibliometrics — that would have us believe that it is easy: count journal articles, sort them according to the impact factors of the journals, and count all the citations.

Science managers and politicians seem especially fond of such ways to assess ‘scientific quality’. But many scientists also accept them, and use them in hiring and funding decisions. They are drawn to the alleged objectivity of bibliometrics. Indeed, one sometimes hears that scientists should be especially ready to apply scientific methods to their own output. However, scientists will also be aware that no good science can be built on bad data, and we are in a unique position to judge the quality of the raw data of bibliometrics, because we generate them through our citation behaviour.

Click here to read more from this January 13, 2014 Nature article by Reinhard Werner.

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