Really important article in mBio: Causes for the Persistence of Impact Factor Mania.
Full citation : Casadevall A, Fang FC. 2014. Causes for the persistence of impact factor mania. mBio 5(2):e00064-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.00064-14.
In the article the authors discuss what they call “Impact Factor Mania” and outline what they believe the causes of it are (hyper competition for funding and jobs, paucity of objective measures of the importance of scientific work, hyper specialization of science, benefits to selected journals, benefits to scientists, national endorsements and prestige by association). They then discuss some of the problems with such mania including distortions in the scientific enterprise, inability to accurately predict impact, ignoring many important studies, limited correlation between IF and article citation, imperfection of citation rate, delay in communications, and creation of perverse incentives. They discuss some of the existing proposals for reform including DORA and a boycott of high impact journals. And finally they discuss what scientists can do including: reforming criteria for funding and promotion, use of diverse metrics, increase interdisciplinary interactions, encourage elite journals to become less elite, and a return to essential scientific values.
The article is a perfect follow up on our recent “Publish or Perish” meeting.