The journal impact factor was designed to help librarians decide which journals to subscribe to and was never intended as a measuring stick for the value of a scientist’s research, as it is sometimes used today. Now, there has been a push to reexamine the importance that tenure committees and journal reviewers assign to journal impact factors.
Earlier this year, a group of concerned scientists and journal publishers signed an open letter known as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) to encourage review boards and tenure committees to “eliminate the use of journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors, in funding, appointment, and promotion considerations,” and to encourage the development of alternative metrics (altmetrics) to measure a scientist’s research contributions.
On 19 September, Heather Piwowar of Duke University, an expert in bibliometric factors and credit attribution, and DORA signatory Sandra Schmid of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discussed the use of impact factors for evaluating scientists and their research and the possible alternatives, with Science Careers' Michael Price. You can view the chat below.