Curt Rice, the head of the Board for Current Research Information System in Norway (CRIStin), recently published an interesting article on his blog, discussing the uses and abuses of the impact factor. This is reproduced, by kind permission, below:
Quality control in research: the mysterious case of the bouncing impact factor
Research must be reliable and publication is part of our quality control system. Scientific articles get reviewed by peers and they get screened by editors. Reviewers ideally help improve the project and its presentation, and editors ideally select the best papers to publish.
Impact factor is a scam. It should no longer be part of our quality control system.
Perhaps to help scientists through the sea of scholarly articles, an attempt has been made to quantify which journals are most important to read — and to publish in. This system — called impact factor — is used as a proxy for quality in decisions about hiring, grants, promotions, prizes and more. Unfortunately, that system is deeply flawed.