Year : 2013 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 363-364
Impact factor went on a ventilator: Neither died nor buried
Sultan Ayoub Meo
Professor of Physiology, Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2925. Riyadh 11461, Saudi Arabia
Sultan Ayoub Meo
Professor of Physiology, Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2925. Riyadh 11461
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|Date of Web Publication||7-Nov-2013|
|How to cite this article:|
Meo SA. Impact factor went on a ventilator: Neither died nor buried. Saudi J Anaesth 2013;7:363-4
Presently, there is great debate about the current position of "Journal Impact Factor", and the science community is divided in their opinion about the role of Journal Impact Factor. Majority of the science community is raising the voice that the Journal Impact Factor must not be used as a primary tool to measure the quality of an article and to assess separable scientist's contributions. However, this is also an unavoidable fact that still a large part of the scientific community believes that even with the limitations and weaknesses, Impact Factor is a simple and powerful tool for the global evaluation of the scientific quality of a journal.
Since the beginning of science, scientists have been measuring the weight and height of their colleagues. The competition among scientists as well as scientific institutions has unfortunately led to the philosophy of "publish or perish". Traditional science metrics including "Journal Impact Factor" (IF) were developed in the age of information sparse, where as we are living in the age of an abundance information. The Journal Impact Factor was coined by Eugene Garfield in the 1950s, it was initially introduced to scientific community as a tool to facilitate the librarians to choose which journals are read more often than others, and also to measure the significance of a scientific journal;  however, this has been transformed into judging an individual scientist's productivity. This is a general assumption, especially in young researchers that, publishing of an article in a high IF journal will receive more citations. To some extent, this assumption is true that still a large part of science community is trying to cite the literature from journals which have high impact factor. But, this is also a fact that publishing in a high IF journal will not guarantee that an article will garner numerous citations. Presently, there is great debate about the role of "Journal Impact Factor", and the science community is favoring and criticizing the role of Impact Factor.  The current debate and criticism on traditional scientific evaluation metrics is calling for new measures of evaluation.
Impact Factor, in its infancy, achieved name and fame, and gained strong influence in scientific community affecting the decisions about where to publish, to promote, hire and fire, success of grant applications and even in monetary awards. However, Impact Factor, before reaching adolescence, has started to attract criticism by the scientific community from various corners of the globe. Currently, there is great debate about the current role of Impact Factor to measure the science. It is being distorted to judge the quality of a researcher or scientist as well as the excellence of the work. Impact Factor contains some serious inaccuracies resulting in strong biases against culture and language and is bound subject subspecialties.  There are multiple dilemmas associated with Impact Factor, journals that are in English language, publish monthly, available online and open excess tend to get more citations than the journals published quarterly, other than in English language and do not have free online excess. ,
The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) and an editorial published by Bruce Alberts "Impact Factor Distortions"  appeared at a time when the IF almost reached at its retirement age, about 60 years old, with declining physiological functions and neuronal apoptosis. DORA emphasized to stop the use of the "journal impact factor" in judging the scientist's work.  The scientific community is also raising the voice that Impact Factor must not be used as "a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles to assess an individual scientist's contributions, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions.  In addition, it has been reported that, Impact Factor is a not a good reason to use as a sole guiding light for journal selection and scientists must take a little Impact Factor break.  Moreover, it has also been reported that "using the journal impact factor to evaluate research performance for an article or an individual is a mortal sin". 
We cannot deny from the name and fame of the Impact Factor both at scientists and journal levels. Many journals are citing the IF as an icon on their front page and the number is often sparkling on the journal websites. The appreciation of Impact Factor is not limited to the boundaries of the journals, but the scientist also highlights IF on the top of their curricula vitae.  However, after DORA Declaration the science community is looking for an appropriate science metrics.
There are many science metrics including Citation counts, Impact Factor, C-index, H-index, Matthew value, Eigen factor, Article influence [Table 1], which are already in vogue and some are in pipeline but none of them is all-in-one metric; most of the science metrics are even unknown to the everyday scientist especially the young science community. Each of them has its own strength, limitation and scope. Still a large part of the scientific community believes that even with the limitations and weaknesses, Impact Factor is a simple and powerful tool for the global evaluation of the scientific quality of a journal. However, after DORA Declaration, although the Impact Factor is on a ventilator but has neither died nor buried. The science community and the non-profit science institutions must take a lead to introduce an appropriate and reliable tool to bridge the gap between citations-based metrics and usage-based metrics as well as quantitative, qualitative and impact indicators that are acceptable to all stakeholders to measure the impact of scientific research. The science community understands the difference between individual and article level metrics, journal level metrics and institutional level metrics. A wrong selection of wrong metrics may develop another unending debate.
| Acknowledgment|| |
Thankful to the Deanship of Scientific Research, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for their support the work through research group project (RGP-VPP 181).
| References|| |
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|2.||Plebani M. Journal impact factor: The debate continues. Clin Chem Lab Med 2013;6:1-2. |
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|4.||Meo Sa. DORA Declaration: Delayed Diagnosis of Debilitating Dilemma. Pak J Med Sci 2013;29:1093. |
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