ART:Takahashi,Impact Factor & Small Fields

Johannes Stegmann stegmann at UKBF.FU-BERLIN.DE
Mon Jul 19 11:30:45 EDT 1999

At 19:34 19.07.99 +0900, you wrote:
>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.

May I add a comment on Ken Takahashi's reply:

To have the possibility to compare one's paper more directly with the other
papers in the same field, is - of course - superior to the usage of the
impact factor of the journal used for publishing. There seems to be
widespread usage of journal impact factors instead of observed citation
rates especially in Germany (see an earlier comment in this list by E.
Garfield). I think, this is "allowed" only in a prospective sense, i.e. for
new articles which could not yet accumulate citations. For older articles,
the observed citation rate(s) should be used, and for comparative purposes
the articles from the same (sub)field should be considered. But, what I
wanted to stress using the actual citation numbers, is that it is necessary
not only to compare to the average (the impact factor), but also take into
consideration the distribution of the citation numbers. I mean, if we have
a topic's IF of 4 or more, and most of the papers are cited only once, and
the article considered is also cited once only, then it is necessary to
include this fact into any "evaluative" or "judging" statement.
Although I see practical difficulties in defining the topic and the data
retrieval for topic-based IF's on a larger scale, I think they are worth to
be realized, provided the underlying data are also supplied.

Johannes Stegmann

Dr. Johannes Stegmann      Univ. Hospital Benjamin Franklin
Free University Berlin     Medical Library
stegmann at Hindenburgdamm 30
Tel.: +49 30 8445 2035     D-12200 Berlin
Fax:  +49 30 8445 4454     Germany

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