Thursday, 2 July 2009

What are your views on impact factor?

I would really appreciate any views that blog readers may have on journal impact factor.

The 2008 impact factors have just been published, and while I am pleased that Minerals Engineering is the leading mineral processing journal, I have never been a great fan of this method of rating journals. I know it is very important in academia for evaluating grant proposals etc, but it is open to misrepresentation and abuse.

A very good debate on this can be found on the MEI Online Forum. The main problem is that only journals with identical subject matter can be compared by this system eg Minerals Engineering, International Journal of Mineral Processing, Minerals & Metallurgical Processing. Chemical Engineering journals tend to have higher impact factors, not because they are necessarily better journals, but because there are more researchers in the field citing the articles.

I know from Minerals Engineering that papers on pyrometallurgy and gravity separation receive relatively few citations, merely due to the fact that there are relatively few researchers in these areas. Hydrometallurgy papers receive many more citations, as this area is more intensively researched (I may be a bit cynical here, but is this to some extent because hydromet research is relatively cheap- buy a few beakers and you have a hydromet lab?). This is presumably why Hydrometallurgy journal has a relatively high impact factor.

Can anyone suggest a better way?

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