Ban Impact Factor Manipulation

Eugene Garfield eugene.garfield at THOMSONREUTERS.COM
Fri Jan 23 14:20:45 EST 2009

Science 23 January 2009:
Vol. 323. no. 5913, p. 461
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5913.461a

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Ban Impact Factor Manipulation

The Letters "Neutralizing the impact factor culture" by A. L. Notkins
and "Impact factor fever" by P. Cherubini (10 October 2008, p. 191
<> ) discussed
the negative effect of the impact factor (IF). Although the IF system
has serious flaws (1
<> ),
for the moment there is nothing better to measure quality of scientific
output (2
<> ).
Instead of trying to get rid of the IF, we should try to make the IF a
more reliable number and to prevent misuse. 

One way that journals can manipulate their impact factors is by
increasing journal self-citation (1
<> ).
For example, a journal can publish summaries of its own previously
published articles, along with relevant self-citations. A journal can
also publish editorials and readers' comments on its own published
articles--again, with citations. In perhaps the most questionable
editorial policy, editors suggest revision of a submitted manuscript's
reference list to include specific relevant articles published in the
editor's journal (1
<> ).
Some have advocated removing all journal self-citations from the IF
citation count (3
<> ).
Every journal has the right to increase its impact factor by attracting
the best papers. Disingenuously manipulating impact factor, however,
should be banned. 

Christian Wallner
Department of Anatomy and Embryology
Academic Medical Center
Meibergdreef 15, Amsterdam
1105 AZ, Netherlands
E-mail: c.wallner at <mailto:c.wallner at>  


1.                 M. E. Falagas, V. G. Alexiou, Arch. Immunol. Ther.
Exp. (Warsz.) 56, 223 (2008). 

2.                 C. Hoeffel, Allergy 53, 1225 (1998). 

3.                 A. Fassoulaki, K. Papilas, A. Paraskeva, K. Patris,
Acta Anaesthesiol. Scand. 46, 902 (2002).


size=2 width="100%" align=center> 

The editors suggest the following Related Resources on Science sites:

In Science Magazine

Neutralizing the Impact Factor Culture   

Abner L. Notkins (10 October 2008)
Science 322 (5899), 191a. [DOI: 10.1126/scien



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Eugene Garfield, PhD. email:  garfield at 
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