Evaluating good research and recognizing accomplished researchers is an important component of science, but, critics claim that there has been too much emphasis placed on using the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) as a proxy to assess impact.
The JIF is a quick and easy way to assess the average number of citations in a journal. However, many in the scientific community feel that it has been applied inappropriately to measure articles and individual researchers, and has come to dominate publishing decisions and academic personnel matters in a way that skews scientific judgments.
Taking a strong first step on the road reversing this trend, in May of this year, 237 individuals and institutions signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), which calls for an improvement in the way the output of scientific research is evaluated.
The declaration poses a simple but bold proposition: that journal-based metrics should not be used as a surrogate measure of the quality of individual research articles, to assess an individual scientist’s contributions, or in making hiring, promotion or funding decisions.
Since it was issued, the statement has resonated in diverse corners of the scientific community and more than 8,700 individuals and 340 organizations have pledged their support to the campaign by signing the online declaration.
Among those leading the DORA efforts:
- David Drubin, editor-in-chief of The American Society for Cell Biology’s journal, Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC), and professor of cell and developmental biology at the University of California at Berkeley;
- Stefano Bertuzzi, executive director of the ASCB;
- Bernd Pulverer, head of scientific publications for the European Molecular Biology Organization;
- Mark Patterson, Executive Director of eLife in Cambridge, England; and
- Mike Rossner, former executive director of The Rockefeller University Press
For their work in trying to change the broad use of the Journal Impact Factor as the sole measure used to assess research and researchers, SPARC recognizes the creators of DORA with its July 2013 Innovator Award.
While reliance on journal metrics has been a community concern for some time, the DORA organizers said the issue came to a head as funding for research has stagnated in many countries and competition has intensified to get into prestigious journals. They contend the current system of evaluation is embedded but there is a general view that reliance on metrics has gone too far. The movement started within cell biologists, but the supporters now include social scientists, mathematicians, and chemists from both the U.S. and around the world.
The July 2013 SPARC Innovator Profile is online at www.sparc.arl.org/initiatives/
The SPARC Innovator program recognizes advances in scholarly communication propelled by an individual, institution, or group
Further information and lists of previous SPARC Innovators, can be found on the SPARC Web site at www.sparc.arl.org.
Re- posted by K. Jane
Re- posted by K. Jane