• Article Galaxy Blog

August 7, 2019

Research Metrics: A Scholarly Impact Showdown

Posted by: Mitja-Alexander Linss

The waiting is finally over: The latest Journal Impact Factors (JIFs or IFs) have been released!

In June 2019, Clarivate Analytics released the 2018 Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which includes updated JIFs for publications it indexes. The JIF, which seeks to evaluate the relative importance of a publication within its field, is calculated yearly. The metric is derived by dividing a journal’s current year citations by the total number of articles it published during the two previous years. The higher a journal's JIF, the more prestigious it is deemed.

The Problem with Journal Impact Factors
Many people use JIF like a television Nielson Ratings for journals. But JIF is not a proxy for quality! In fact, organizations like San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (www.sfdora.org) are asking researchers, funding bodies, and especially hiring and tenure committees not to use journal-based metrics like JIF when making hiring, promotion, or funding decisions. 

Here’s how PLOS ONE explains the key pitfalls:

Research assessment is too often conflated with journal assessment, obscuring the contribution an individual work brings to advancing a field or more broadly, science as a whole. Citation metrics are too often siloed from the broader sharing of work through social networks, restricting comprehensive evaluation of scientific and medical research.

The Case for Article-Level Metrics
Unlike JIFs, which assess a journal’s impact, article-level metrics (ALMs) drill down to focus on the article itself.

Here are 3 Ways ALMs beat JIFs:

PERSPECTIVE: JIFs focus on a single metric (i.e. the average number of citations to recently published articles). ALMs, on the other hand, draw from both social and academic sources to track an article’s reach, use and reuse. By monitoring social media discussions and mentions, as well as mainstream media, blogs, and policy documents, ALMs provide a more well-rounded view of an article’s popularity and influence.

SPEED: JIFs for a particular year aren’t released until June of the following year. ALMs accumulate much faster! Because social monitoring can begin the moment an article is published, ALMs provide faster insight into an article’s influence.

RELEVANCE: Because ALMs are continually monitored and updated, they provide a near real-time view of an article’s influence—and show how that influence changes over time. 

At Reprints Desk, we believe strongly in the value of ALMs. As such, we've partnered with Altmetric to provide at-a-glance ALMs, via the Altmetric Donut, in both our browser plug in Article Galaxy Widget and our Article Galaxy research platform.


Topics: article galaxy article galaxy widget altmetrics altmetrics score PLoS JIFs IFs journal impact factor