ART:Takahashi,Impact Factor & Small Fields

Ken Takahashi ktaka at MED.UOEH-U.AC.JP
Mon Jul 19 06:34:02 EDT 1999

May I respond to Dr Johannes Stegmann's comments on our letter on "an
alternative to journal impact factors"?

Comments #2 and #3 are acceptable.  I would like to comment on #1.

I would like to stress that our proposal aims essentially to provide a
reference value for individual citation counts.  The fact that there is
only poor correlation between citation counts for individual papers and
the journal IF was raised in our letter because there is the (mistaken)
"culture" to infer the impact of individual papers from the journal IF
it appears in.  Of course a researcher can be merited for his paper
having been published in a high IF journal, perhaps, because of its
prestige, etc., but there is no assurance that his/her paper will be
receiving the average citation count OF THE JOURNAL (the journal IF),
because of the poor correlation.

What is needed FOR COMPARISON is a reference value, the average
citation count of papers pertaining to a certain topic.  Here, too, a
researcher has no assurance that his paper will be receiving the
average citation count OF THE TOPIC (the topic-based IF).  This was
exemplified by Dr. Stegmann that the correlation is poor between
individual papers and the topic IF.  We appreciate Dr. Stegman's effort
to verify and also the follow up by Dr. Burrell.  However this fact of
poor correlation is not relevant to our proposal.

In contrast to journal IF, the researcher is unlikely to "infer from"
the topic-based IF for the individual paper having published on the
same theme.  Instead, he will be provided with a legitimate reference
point for "judging" his individual citation count.  This is an improved
method from "judging" by the journal IF his/her paper appeared in.

By the way, I could not use the REPLY function in the homepage, so I am
sending out my response to the listserv itself.  I appologize if this
is causing inconvenience for some people.

Ken Takahashi
Associate Professor
Dept. Environmental Epidemiology
University of Occupational & Environmental Health
Orio, Yahatanishiku
Kitakyushu City 807-8555, Japan
mailto:ktaka at
FAX: +81(Japan)-93-601-7324
TEL: +81(Japan)-93-691-7454

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