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Scholarly Impact Research Guide

This guide provides information and instruction on the different types of metrics used to evaluate and locate one's scholarly metrics.

Criticisms of Impact Metrics

  • JIF is not a valid indicator of the quality of individual papers
  • Journal citations are usually skewed with a few articles accounting for the majority of citations. JIF uses an average making it more susceptible to outlier effects. 
  • Metrics are not normalized and can't be compared across fields
  • General journals have larger citation pools than specific journals
  • Review articles and meta-analyses receive on average, more citations possibly leading to the decline of innovative unique research
  • Higher JIF journals have longer author lists
  • JIF is highest in publishing areas with the largest number of researchers (ex: cancer research)
  • JIF is highest in areas where research outputs are the greatest
  • Has given rise to "citation cartels" where a group of editors ask authors to cite articles from each others journals
  • Negative findings or confirmatory studies, which are less frequently cited, won't be published. 
  • Funding may decrease for areas that have lower JIF
  • JIF uses a very brief two year window which is criticized as being two short to accurately account for differences in citation rates between publications
  • h-index is sexually biased since females don't produce as many papers 
  • Encourages self-citation
  • The literature will decrease in quality because the main incentive to publish will be to get higher impact metrics
  • Relying in impact metrics will increase the divide between the "haves" and the "have nots" in academia
  • Can lead to abuse of authorship credit
  • Inverse correlation between JIF and reliability of research findings

Casadevall, A., & Fang, F. C. (2014). Causes for the persistence of impact factor maniaMBio5(2), e00064-14.

Chapman, C. A., Bicca-Marques, J. C., Calvignac-Spencer, S., Fan, P., Fashing, P. J., Gogarten, J., ... & Chr. Stenseth, N. (2019). Games academics play and their consequences: How authorship, h-index and journal impact factors are shaping the future of academiaProceedings of the Royal Society B286(1916), 20192047.

Mech, E., Ahmed, M. M., Tamale, E., Holek, M., Li, G., & Thabane, L. (2020). Evaluating Journal Impact Factor: a systematic survey of the pros and cons, and overview of alternative measuresJournal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases26.


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