[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: The Number That's Devouring Science

As a publisher I have to disagree with the first statement by Feinman and 
I do it on the basis of evidence. Academic authors submit to journals not 
databases. Users indeed usually (though not invariably or entirely) tend 
to look for authors and subjects. However a surprising number still 
receive ETOCs for favoured journals or even scan them physically.

However as a publisher I am in total agreement with the sentiments (such 
as I can tell from the snippet) in the CHE article. In the last few years 
IF fever has spread dramatically. Journals I work with have become 
obsessed with gaining impact factor. Editors are more concerned with this 
than producing a high quality publication for their community. It is not 
uncommon that these two aims are in conflict - chapter and verse can be 
provided. As far as assessment of academics are concerned, in the UK we 
have the RAE - the Research Assessment Exercise. I have looked at the 
statements of a number of the 60+ panels, who are to conduct the 
assessment. and those I have read carefully explain that they will judge 
the submission of publications from the departments they are assessing on 
their merits and NOT take into account the IF of the journals in which 
these publications appear. However heads of departments throughout the 
land totally ignore these sort of statements. They tell their departments 
that they have to try to publish in Nature etc.

This (thank goodness) is not an area where publishers (OA or not OA) and 
librarians need to be divided but what do we do?

Anthony Watkinson

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Feinman" <RFeinman@downstate.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Sent: Friday, November 25, 2005 12:59 PM
Subject: Re: The Number That's Devouring Science

> I do not have a subscription but would be interested in the list's 
> opinion on this.  I personally think it is an anachronism in the same 
> way that, to some extent, journals are an anachronism, that is the unit 
> of search is subject, author, etc. not journal but interested in any 
> thoughts on this.
> = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
> "Hamaker, Chuck" <cahamake@email.uncc.edu>
> Sent by: owner-liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> 10/10/05 08:43 PM
> To <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
> Subject:  The Number That's Devouring Science
> Chronicle of Higher Education
>>From the issue dated October 14, 2005
> http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i08/08a01201.htm
> (must have subscription to access article)
> The Number That's Devouring Science
> The impact factor, once a simple way to rank scientific journals, has
> become an unyielding yardstick for hiring, tenure, and grants
> In the beginning, during the late 1950s, it was just an innocent idea in
> Eugene Garfield's head. A Philadelphia researcher who described himself as
> a "documentation consultant," Mr. Garfield spent his free time thinking
> about scientific literature and how to mine information from it.
> He eventually dreamed up something he called an "impact factor,"
> essentially a grading system for journals, that could help him pick out
> the most important publications from the ranks of lesser titles. To
> identify which journals mattered most to scientists, he proposed tallying
> up the number of citations an average article in each journal received.
> This accounting method sounds harmless enough. Outside academe, few people
> have even heard of it. Mr. Garfield, though, now compares his brainchild
> to nuclear energy: a force that can help society but can unleash mayhem
> when it is misused.
> Indeed, impact factors have assumed so much power, especially in the past
> five years, that they are starting to control the scientific enterprise.
> In Europe, Asia, and, increasingly, the United States, Mr. Garfield's tool
> can play a crucial role in hiring, tenure decisions, and the awarding of
> grants.
> "The impact factor may be a pox upon the land because of the abuse of that
> number," says Robert H. Austin, a professor of physics at Princeton
> University.
> Impact-factor fever is spreading, threatening to skew the course of
> scientific research, say critics. Investigators are now more likely to
> chase after fashionable topics - the kind that get into high-impact
> journals - than to follow important avenues that may not be the flavor of
> the year, says Yu-Li Wang, a professor of physiology at the University of
> Massachusetts Medical School. "It influences a lot of people's research
> direction."
> SEE LINK FOR REST OF ARTICLE. Subscription required.
> ####