Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Capturing the Influence

Many researchers bemoan the use of journal impact factors as a means of assessing the influence of scientific articles, Nature's Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato writes. In response to this, the US National Institutes of Health has developed a new metric, dubbed the Relative Citation Ratio, but this approach, too, has drawn criticism, Bloudoff-Indelicato adds.

In a paper posted at bioRxiv, an NIH team led by George Santangelo describes the RCR as an "article-level and field-independent" way to quantify scientific accomplishment. An article's RCR is calculated by dividing its citation rate by the average citation rate of articles in the field. The RCR is then compared to a benchmark set of NIH-funded papers.

The team applied the metric to nearly 89,000 articles published between 2003 and 2010, and found that the values they generated tracked with what subject matter experts thought.

According to Nature, Stefano Bertuzzi from the American Society for Cell Biology calls the new metric "stunning" in a blog post, but Ludo Waltman from Leiden University says in his own post that it "doesn't live up to expectations." Further, he says that its complexity and lack of transparency will like be an impediment to its wider adoption.

"We don't suggest [the RCR] is the final answer to measuring," Santangelo adds. "This is just a tool. No one metric is ever going to be used in isolation by the NIH."

Filed under

The Scan

Tara Pacific Expedition Project Team Finds High Diversity Within Coral Reef Microbiome

In papers appearing in Nature Communications and elsewhere, the team reports on findings from the two-year excursion examining coral reefs.

Study Examines Relationship Between Cellular Metabolism, DNA Damage Repair

A new study in Molecular Systems Biology finds that an antioxidant enzyme shifts from mitochondria to the nucleus as part of the DNA damage response.

Stem Cell Systems Target Metastatic Melanoma in Mouse Model

Researchers in Science Translational Medicine describe a pair of stem cell systems aimed at boosting immune responses against metastatic melanoma in the brain.

Open Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas Team Introduces Genomic Data Collection, Analytical Tools

A study in Cell Genomics outlines open-source methods being used to analyze and translate whole-genome, exome, and RNA sequence data from the Pediatric Brain Tumor Atlas.