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Wednesday, 12 February 2014

image for The Impact Factor - Obsolete and Dangerous
Journal Impact Factors - Scientific or Dangerous?

The Impact Factor was conceived in the 1970's by Eugene Garfield, founder of the Institute for Scientific Information, and can be used to compare the 'scientific weight' of different academic journals. Whilst many have argued that the Impact Factor is outdated and misrepresentative, new reports are emerging to suggest this metric may also be highly dangerous. Whistle-blower Professor Dwain Pipe, a former lecturer in Particle Physics at Princeton's Energy and Nuclear Information Service (PENIS), met with our reporter last week to reveal the extent of the problem.

'The Impact Factor is calculated every 6 months' said Professor Pipe from his country manor in Kent. 'Academic representatives of the respective journals meet in the Leather and Lace Pub in Cambridgeshire, where they take it in turns to throw latest edition journals at a big block of Stilton cheese. There is an impartial judge who measures the indentation, and this is used to indicate prestige and scientific weight. The bigger journals like Nature and Science usually score the highest, whilst smaller tombs like the Journal of Reindeer Husbandry often come last.'

Unfortunately, it appears that this seemingly innocuous ritual is actually highly dangerous. We can exclusively reveal that three casualties occurred at last year's Impact Factor Measurement Event, caused when either the journal missed the cheese all together or where spectators were hit with de brie. For example, Dr. Francis Turnip, a lecturer in Food Science at the British Agricultural Learning Library of Science (BALLS), was smacked in the face by a flying copy of Aeronautical Rocket Space Exploration (ARSE), and suffered a broken nose. Whilst he remains a strong supporter of the old system, Dr. Turnip suggested small changes may have to be made. 'We could substitute the presently used block of Stilton for a more robust cheese like Cheddar. I think we would need to do some pretty rigorous testing first however, to ensure safety and to be certain that our new system is feta than the old one'.

Many have been critical of the Impact Factor in the past, claiming it doesn't take in to account the scientific weight of each individual article. Furthermore, as the scientific weight of a journal is often a product of only a few big articles, the Impact factor scarcely represents each constituent paper. Now revelations regarding the danger of this metric have come to light, journal editors and authors alike may need to rethink this arguably archaic rating system.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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