Impact Factor: outdated artefact or stepping-stone to journal certification?

Jerome K. Vanclay

A review of Garfield's journal impact factor and its specific implementation as the Thomson Reuters Impact Factor reveals several weaknesses in this commonly-used indicator of journal standing. Key limitations include the mismatch between citing and cited documents, the deceptive display of three decimals that belies the real precision, and the absence of confidence intervals. These are minor issues that are easily amended and should be corrected, but more substantive improvements are needed. There are indications that the scientific community seeks and needs better certification of journal procedures to improve the quality of published science. Comprehensive certification of editorial and review procedures could help ensure adequate procedures to detect duplicate and fraudulent submissions.

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