Definition: The journal impact factor measures the importance of a journal by calculating the times it's articles are cited.
How Impact Factor is Calculated: The calculation is based on a two-year period and involves dividing the number of times articles were cited by the number of articles that are citable.
Experts stress that there are limitations in using impact factors to evaluate a scholar's work. There are many reasons cited for not relying on impact factor alone to evaluate the output of a particular individual. Among these are the following:
* A single factor is not sufficient for evaluating of an author's work.
* Journal values are meaningless unless compared within the same discipline. Impact factors vary among disciplines. factor was originally devised to show the impact of a specific journal, not a specific scholar. The quality and impact of the author's work may extend beyond the impact of a particular journal.
According to Jim Testa, a researcher for ThomsonReuters Scientific, the most widespread misuse of the Impact Factor is to evaluate the work of an individual author (instead of a journal). "To say that because a researcher is publishing in a certain journal, he or she is more influential or deserves more credit is not necessarily true. There are many other variables to consider."
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Researchers and Scientific Groups Make New Push Against Impact Factors - May 16, 2013
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