letters on impact factors in the April 2008 issue of The Scientist.

Eugene Garfield eugene.garfield at THOMSON.COM
Tue May 13 14:25:15 EDT 2008

Bias out of the bottle

In "Publishing bias out of the bottle," (1) a scientist surveyed the 
drinking habits and publication records of avian ecologists and 
evolutionary biologists in the Czech Republic (home to the highest beer 
consumption rates), and found that the number of papers published, the 
total number of citations received, and the average number of citations per 
paper all declined with increased beer consumption. 

Based on the number of surveys responded, and how the participants were 
selected, I believe that this report has done nothing better than to 
increase clicks-per-day for the journal that published the study (Oikos) 
and some other news agencies. However, it can also serve as a joke to boot 
sleepy people in the lab. 

Dzung Le 
Institute for Agricultural Engineering, Ministry of Agriculture 
Hanoi, Vietnam 
webmaster at cynosura.org 


1. E. Dolgin, " Publishing bias out of the bottle," The Scientist News 
Blog, March 18, 2008; 


The impact of impact factor

Re: "A new proposal for citation data," in which researchers propose a new 
way of evaluating papers, 1 I believe that the impact factor is outdated, 
and it is open to manipulation. 2 Isn't it grotesque that in today's day 
and age scientists publish in different journals instead of a single, fully 
searchable and cross-referenced, peer-reviewed database? If overnight all 
journals were wiped out and you were king for a day, would you recreate 
approximately 20,000 different scholarly journals? With today's technology, 
would you even create two? 

Bjoern Brembs 
Freie Universtat Berlin 
Berlin, Germany 
bjoern at brembs.net 

Many scientists dedicate themselves to the impact factor, trying to publish 
papers with many citations. I think most of them go in a wrong way, 
focusing on those fields where it is easy to publish papers. In China, this 
problem is very serious: Professors must have certain papers to be 
qualified, postgraduates must have papers to graduate, and these papers 
must have certain citations. I think it is time for a new rule to evaluate 
researchers' work. 

Qian Wang 
Graduate School, Academy of Sciences 
Beijing, China 
freehill at 126.com 


1. A. Katsnelson, " A new proposal for citation data ," The Scientist News 
Blog, March 4, 2008. 

2. PLoS Medicine Editors, "The impact factor game," PLoS Medicine, 3
(6):e291, 2006. 



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