The range of models used to measure the impact of journals and articles is constantly increasing, though most are based on the level of citations and substantial emphasis is given to impact factor.
The impact factor is a measure of how often an average article in a journal has been cited and is calculated by dividing the number of current year citations to source items published in that journal during the previous 2 years.
Limitations of impact factors
While the impact factor is a relatively easy measure to calculate and understand, it does have some limitations.
Given the highly skewed nature of the citation distribution of a journal's articles, the appropriateness of using a mean has been questioned. In addition, most journals contain a significant proportion of articles that are never cited. Such articles can be seen as ‘benefiting’ unfairly from the impact factor of the journal in which they appear.
Improving research assessment
In 2012 the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) was developed to advance practical and robust approaches to research assessment globally and across all scholarly disciplines.
This declaration challenges the role played by the impact factor as the main means for evaluating science and promotes the assessment of research on its own merits rather than on the basis of the journal in which the research is published.
The Royal Society is a signatory to DORA and we are working to improve the ways in which the research we publish is evaluated by offering a variety of journal and article-based metrics.
Our article-based metrics
To help move the focus of article ‘success’ away from just the impact factor of the journal it’s published in and to provide a fuller picture of the performance of each article, we’ve made a number of improvements to the ‘Details’ tab in the right-hand column of our journal article pages.
* You may see a discrepancy in the number of citations an article has, depending on which data source(s) each widget uses. We’re looking at giving users the option to view multiple sources of citation data in the Article Metrics widget.
Although there’s work to be done to improve accuracy, we hope this data will provide authors and readers with a more complete picture of how an article is performing and move away from assumption made on impact factor.
Too much emphasis is currently given to impact factor in measuring the success of journals and articles. By signing up to DORA we’re working to improve the ways in which the research we publish is evaluated by offering a variety of metrics. Why not visit your Royal Society journal article to view our improved article metrics for a fuller view of the impact of your article?