Advertisement

Scientometrics

, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 281–292 | Cite as

What do the scientists think about the impact factor?

  • Gualberto Buela-Casal
  • Izabela ZychEmail author
Article

Abstract

The impact factor is a highly polemic metric. It was designed to help scientists in searching for bibliographic references for their own works, enabling communication among researchers and helping librarians in deciding which journal they should purchase. Nevertheless, it has soon become the most important measure of scientific performance applied to journals, articles, scientists, universities, etc. Since then, some researchers argue that it is a useless and flawed measure, while others defend its utility. The current study is the first survey on the opinion on the topic of a broad sample of scientists from all over the world. The questionnaire was answered by 1,704 researchers from 86 different countries, all the continents and all the UNESCO major fields of knowledge. The results show that the opinion is slightly above the median which could be understood as “neither positive nor negative”. Surprisingly, there is a negative correlation between the number of articles published by the respondents and their opinion on the impact factor.

Keywords

Impact factor Web of Science Journal Citation Reports Quality 

References

  1. Agrawal, A. A. (2005). Corruption of journal impact factors. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20, 157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aksnes, D. W. (2006). Citation rates and perceptions of scientific contribution. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57, 169–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aksnes, D. W., & Rip, A. (2009). Researchers’ perceptions of citations. Research Policy, 38, 895–905.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arribalzaga, E. B. (2005). El factor de impacto o el impacto de factores. Revista Chilena de Cirugía, 57, 269–274.Google Scholar
  5. Arribalzaga, E. B. (2009). El factor de impacto: su uso, abuso y mal uso. Revista Argentina de Cirugía, 97, 15–21.Google Scholar
  6. Bagatin, E., & Gontijo, B. (2011). The expansion of a measure: what is a scientific journal impact factor and how important is it for academic Brazilian dermatologists. International Journal of Dermatology, 50, 1432–1434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baum, J. A. C. (2011). Free-Riding on Power Laws: questioning the validity of the Impact factor as a measure of research quality in organization studies. Organization, 18, 449–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bensman, S. J. (2007). Garfield and the impact factor. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 41, 93–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bensman, S. J. (2008). Distributional differences of the impact factor in the sciences versus the social sciences: an analysis of the probabilistic structure of the 2,005 Journal Citation Reports. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60, 1097–1117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bensman, S. J. (2012). The impact factor: its place in Garfield’s thought, in science evaluation, and in library collection Management. Scientometrics. doi  10.1007/s11192-011-0601-9.
  11. Bermúdez, M. P., Guillén-Riquelme, A., Gómez-García, A., Quevedo-Blasco, R., Sierra, J. C., & Buela-Casal, G. (2011). Análisis del rendimiento en el doctorado en función del sexo. Revista Educación XX1, 14, 17–33.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, T. (2011). Journal quality metrics: options to consider other than impact factors. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65, 346–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Buela-Casal, G. (2003). Evaluación de la calidad de los artículos y de las revistas científicas: Propuesta del factor de impacto ponderado y de un índice de calidad. Psicothema, 15, 23–35.Google Scholar
  14. Buela-Casal, G. (2010). Índices de impacto de las revistas científicas e indicadores para medir el rendimiento de los investigadores. Revista de Psicodidáctica, 15, 3–19.Google Scholar
  15. Buela-Casal, G., Bermúdez, M. P., Sierra, J. C., Quevedo-Blasco, R., & Castro, A. (2010). Ranking de 2009 en investigación de las universidades públicas españolas. Psicothema, 22, 171–179.Google Scholar
  16. Buela-Casal, G., Bermúdez, M. P., Sierra, J. C., Quevedo-Blasco, R., Castro, A., & Guillén-Riquelme, A. (2011a). Ranking de 2010 en producción y productividad en investigación de las universidades públicas españolas. Psicothema, 23, 527–536.Google Scholar
  17. Buela-Casal, G., Guillén-Riquelme, A., Guglielmi, O., Quevedo-Blasco, R., & Ramiro, M. T. (2011b). Rendimiento en el doctorado en función del área de conocimiento. Revista de Psicodidáctica, 16, 181–192.Google Scholar
  18. Buela-Casal, G., Olivas-Avila, J. A., Musi-Lechuga, B., & Zych, I. (2011c). The h index of the presidents of the American Psychological Association (APA) through journal articles included in the web of science database. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 11, 95–107.Google Scholar
  19. Buela-Casal, G., Perakakis, P., Taylor, M., & Checa, P. (2006). Measuring internationality: reflections and perspectives on academic journals. Scientometrics, 67, 45–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Buela-Casal, G., & Zych, I. (2011). Analysis of the relationship between the number of citations and the quality evaluated by experts in psychology journals. Psicothema, 22, 270–276.Google Scholar
  21. Buela-Casal, G., Zych, I., Medina, A., Viedma del Jesus, M. I., Lozano, S., & Torres, G. (2009). Analysis of the influence of the two types of the journal articles; theoretical and empirical on the impact factor of a journal. Scientometrics, 80, 265–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Buela-Casal, G., Zych, I., Sierra, J. C., & Bermúdez, M. P. (2007). The internationality index of the Spanish psychology journals. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 7, 899–910.Google Scholar
  23. Dempsey, J. A. (2009). Impact factor and its role in academic promotion: A statement adopted by the International Respiratory Journal Editors Roundtable. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107, 1005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Galan-Gonzalez, A., & Zych, I. (2011). análisis de los criterios de la comisión nacional evaluadora de la actividad investigadora (CNEAI) para la concesión de los tramos de investigación en educación. Bordón, 63, 117–139.Google Scholar
  25. Garfield, E. (1955). Citation indexes for science: a new dimension in documentation through association of ideas. Science, 122, 108–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Garfield, E. (1972). Citation analysis as a tool in journal evaluation. Science, 178, 471–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Garfield, E. (1999). Journal impact factor: a brief review’. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 161, 979–980.Google Scholar
  28. Garfield, E. (2003). The meaning of the impact factor. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 3, 363–369.Google Scholar
  29. Garfield, E. (2006). The history and meaning of the journal impact factor. Journal of the American Medical Association, 295, 90–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Garfield, E. (2007). The evolution of the science citation index. International Microbiology, 10, 65–69.Google Scholar
  31. Gonzalez, L., & Campanario, J. M. (2007). Structure of the impact factor of journals included in the social sciences citation index: Citations from documents labeled “editorial material”. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 58, 252–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hargens, L. L., & Schuman, H. (1990). Citation counts and social comparisons: Scientists’ use and evaluation of citation index data. Social Science Research, 19, 205–221.Google Scholar
  33. Hartley, J. (2012a). New ways of making academic articles easier to read. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 12, 143–160.Google Scholar
  34. Hartley, J. (2012b). To cite or not to cite: author self-citations and the impact factor. Scientometrics. doi: 10.1007/s11192-011-0568-6.
  35. Holden, G., Rosenberg, G., & Barker, K. (2005). Bibliometrics: A potential decision making aid in hiring, reappointment, tenure and promotion decisions. Social Work in Health Care, 41, 67–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jones, T., Huggett, S., & Kamalski, J. (2011). Finding a way through the scientific literature: Indexes and measures. World Neurosurgery, 76, 36–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McVeigh, M. E., & Mann, S. J. (2009). The journal impact factor denominator: Defining citable (counted) items. JAMA, 302, 1107–1109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Musi-Lechuga, B., Olivas-Ávila, J., & Buela-Casal, G. (2009). Producción científica de los programas de doctorado en Psicología Clínica y de la Salud de España. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 9, 161–173.Google Scholar
  39. Nieminen, P., Ruckera, G., Miettunenc, J., Carpentera, J., & Schumacher, M. (2007). Statistically significant papers in psychiatry were cited more often than others. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 60, 939–946.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Olivas-Ávila, J. A., & Musi-Lechuga, B. (2010a). Análisis de la producción de los profesores funcionarios de Psicología en España en artículos de revistas de la Web of Science. Psicothema, 22, 909–916.Google Scholar
  41. Olivas-Ávila, J. A., & Musi-Lechuga, B. (2010b). Producción en tesis doctorales de los profesores funcionarios de Psicología en España más productivos en la Web of Science. Psicothema, 22, 917–923.Google Scholar
  42. Reedijk, J., & Moed, H. (2008). Is the impact of journal impact factors decreasing? Journal of Documentation, 64, 183–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ruiz-Pérez, R., Delgado López-Cózar, E., & Jiménez-Contreras, E. (2006). Criterios del Institute for Scientific Information para la selección de revistas científicas. Su aplicación a las revistas españolas: metodología e indicadores. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 6, 401–424.Google Scholar
  44. Saglen, P. O. (1997). Why the impact factor of journals should not be used for evaluating research. British Medical Journal, 314, 498–502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sierra, J. C., Buela-Casal, G., Bermúdez, M. P., Santos-Iglesias, P. (2009). Diferencias por sexo en los criterios y estándares de productividad científica y docente en profesores funcionarios en España. Psicothema, 21, 124–132.Google Scholar
  46. Vanclay, J. K. (2012). Impact factor: Outdated artefact or stepping stone to journal certification? Scientometrics. doi: 10.1007/s11192-011-0561-0.
  47. Zych, I. (2011). Comparacion De Los Criterios Para La Acreditacion De Profesores Contratados y Funcionarios. Aula Abierta, 39, 51–62.Google Scholar
  48. Zych, I., & Buela-Casal, G. (2007). Análisis comparativo de los valores en el Índice de Internacionalidad de las revistas iberoamericanas de psicología incluidas en la Web of Science. Revista Méxicana de Psicología, 24, 7–14.Google Scholar
  49. Zych, I., & Buela-Casal, G. (2009). The Internationality Index: Application to Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología. Revista Latinoamericana de Psicología, 41, 401–412.Google Scholar
  50. Zych, I., & Buela-Casal, G. (2010). Internacionalidad de las revistas de psicología multidisciplinar editadas en Iberoamérica e incluidas en la Web of Science. Universitas Psychologica, 9, 27–34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Facultad de PsiciologíaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Departamento de Psicología. Facultad de Ciencias de la EducaciónUniversidad de CórdobaCórdobaSpain

Personalised recommendations