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China's 'Obsession'

In Nature, Chinese chemist Nai-Xing Wang says the biggest problem with the way China does science is the "obsession with journal impact factors," and that funding tends to be given to researchers that publish in high-impact-factor journals, rather than to those that do good science. "Articles in journals with high impact factors are judged to appeal most to readers, but not every paper published in a high-impact-factor journal is high quality, and papers published in lower-ranked journals are never worthless," Wang says. "Yet some administrators in China take a very crude approach: high-impact-factor publications mean excellent work." Research proposals are judged by a researcher's prior publications, and salaries can often change depending on which journals the scientists publish in. If high impact factor is the only way to judge the quality of research, he adds, then science is no longer science, but "a field of fame and game."

(HT: Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline)

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