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Impact factor and other citation measures : counting what matters

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  1. Impact factor and other citation measures: countingwhatmatters Moderated by Maria Ekstrand Presented by Valda Vinson and Nathan Ford

  2. The Impact Factor at Science Valda Vinson Science AIDS 2012 July 25, 2012

  3. Defining the Impact Factor 2011 IF= Total citations/total number of citable items • Citations = the number of times articles published in 2009-10 were cited in indexed journals during 2011 • Citable items = Primarily articles and reviews, published in 2009-2010; typically not editorials and letters-to-the-Editor (rule of >15 citations) • note that the 2011 impact factor was actually published in 2012, because it could not be calculated until all of the 2011 publications had been received • So a journal that is cited once, on average, for each article published has an IF of 1

  4. How is the IF used? • As a way to measure the importance or prestige of a journal • As a way to establish the success of individual scientists Science’s view is the IF is an imperfect tool to measure the success of either of these factors

  5. Problems with the IF: Science’s perspective • The IF varies from field to field • 1061: “An integrated genomic analysis of human glioblastomaMultiforme” vs. • 328: “Optical images of an exosolar Planet 25 light-years from Earth” • Biology vs. Physical Sciences split • IF of Annual Reviews of Immunology vs. Science, Nature and Cell • The IF of a journal does NOT reflect the worth of any individual paper published in that journal. • A large fraction of the IF is made up by a relatively small percentage of papers: ActaCrystallographica Section A rose from 2.051 in 2008 to 49.926 in 2009 because 1 paper received 6600 citations • A paper in a lower impact journal may be much more important than one in a high impact journal: Original Th17 papers were published in Nature Immunology (1564 citations)

  6. Problems with the IF: Science’s perspective • Journals can manipulate their IF • Science 335, 542 (2012). Many journal editors appear to strategically target authors and papers to pressure them into citing the editors' journals. • The Impact Factor distorts the process of science. • An obesity-associated gut microbiome with increased capacity for energy Nature444, 1027 (2006). • 2008 152 • 2009 135 • 2010 198 • 2011 223 • Controversial/topical papers • Rational Design of Envelope Identifies Broadly Neutralizing Human Monoclonal Antibodies to HIV-1 Science329, 856 (2010). Total cites: 172

  7. How does Science use the IF? • Our goal is to publish the best papers in all disciplines • IF is one (imperfect) way to measure the impact of a paper • Important to remember IF is relative to a given field and some papers take a while to show their impact