A flawed judgment emerges whenever the amount of a single ‘currency’ is observed as the unique yardstick. Means and purpose are confused. As the GDP for a nation, the cash-flow for a private company, or even the grades for elementary school students, etc., the greed for the currency replaces the main goals: citizens’ happiness, customers’ satisfaction, or a proper education. The misused IF currency1,2 jeopardizes the scientific progress in the academia3 and therefore in society4,5.

The universities address the need of good exposure through massive publication by converting into PhD factories6,7. Publishers rate articles favoring their visibility at the expense of their scientific accuracy8. Research areas are artificially separated. Academics are compared on the basis of IF. They pursue publications on high IF journals instead of more suitable ones. Hence a vicious cycle is created which results in wasting time and money9.

Alternative rankings as for instance the H-index10 or the Eigenfactor11 do not solve the problem. Many are the ways to manipulate a single ranking mechanism12. A solution could be envisaged that – IMHO – ultimately relies on the simultaneous, aware adoption of more than one currency13 so that the vicious circle may be broken, at least as a first step14.

  1. Sick of Impact Factors (Occam’s Typewriter)
  2. Journals’ Ranking System Roils Research (The Wall Street Journal)
  3. San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)
  4. Science in Society (European Commission)
  5. Global private and public R&D funding (Scienceogram)
  6. Education: The PhD factory (Nature News)
  7. What’s wrong with “Publish or Perish”? (Neuroskeptic – Discover)
  8. MMR vaccine controversy (Wikipedia)
  9. TheCostOfKnowledge.com
  10. H-index (Wikipedia)
  11. Eigenfactor.org
  12. Manipulating PageRank (Wikipedia)
  13. Altmetrics.org
  14. Scholarship: Beyond the paper (Nature Comment)