Deeper Impact

Victor Henning and William Gunn from Mendeley discuss whether impact factors are useful.

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While the impact factor of a

While the impact factor of a journal might reflect some general measure of quality and significance, this is does not necessarily equally apply to the degree of rigour of performance, peer-review and importance of individual scientific reports within the same journal. Ultimately, the best indication of the impact of a scientific manuscript is how highly it becomes cited by others over time.

Few scientists look for the latest research findings by specifically targeting the highest impact factor journals. With over 10,000 scientific journals presently publishing around a million scientific papers per year, this would be rather fool-hardy. Instead, the use of PubMed and other search engines provide easy and comprehensive coverage on the topics most relevant to the enquiring scientist. If open-access is also available, there will probably be an even better chance that the work will be seen and used.

Over a hundred years ago, most scientists published their own findings as monographs rather than articles in journals. Perhaps in the near future, more scientists will directly publish their research on their own open-access websites. This is a direction that I plan to pursue myself shortly.