Impact Factor Distortions

Science  17 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6134, pp. 787
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240319

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This Editorial coincides with the release of the San Francisco declaration on research Assessment (DORA), the outcome of a gathering of concerned scientists at the December 2012 meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology.* To correct distortions in the evaluation of scientific research, DORA aims to stop the use of the "journal impact factor" in judging an individual scientist's work. The Declaration states that the 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." DORA also provides a list of specific actions, targeted at improving the way scientific publications are assessed, to be taken by funding agencies, institutions, publishers, researchers, and the organizations that supply metrics. These recommendations have thus far been endorsed by more than 150 leading scientists and 75 scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the publisher of Science). Here are some reasons why: