New Article: “The Journal Impact Factor: A Brief History, Critique, and Discussion of Adverse Effects” (Preprint)
The following article (preprint) was recently posted to arXiv by the authors. It will be published in the forthcoming Springer Handbook of Science and Technology Indicators.
The Journal Impact Factor: A Brief History, Critique, and Discussion of Adverse Effects
Université de Montréal
Université du Québec à Montréal
Cassidy R. Sugimoto
Forthcoming in Glänzel, W., Moed, H.F., Schmoch U., Thelwall, M. (2018). Springer Handbook of Science and Technology Indicators. Cham (Switzerland): Springer International Publishing.
The Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is, by far, the most discussed bibliometric indicator. Since its introduction over 40 years ago, it has had enormous effects on the scientific ecosystem: transforming the publishing industry, shaping hiring practices and the allocation of resources, and, as a result, reorienting the research activities and dissemination practices of scholars. Given both the ubiquity and impact of the indicator, the JIF has been widely dissected and debated by scholars of every disciplinary orientation. Drawing on the existing literature as well as on original research, this chapter provides a brief history of the indicator and highlights well-known limitations—such as the asymmetry between the numerator and the denominator, differences across disciplines, the insufficient citation window, and the skewness of the underlying citation distributions. The inflation of the JIF and the weakening predictive power is discussed, as well as the adverse effects on the behaviors of individual actors and the research enterprise. Alternative journal-based indicators are described and the chapter concludes with a call for responsible application and a commentary on future developments in journal indicators.
Direct to Full Text Article
32 pages; PDF.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.