[Irtalk] [1301.3748] Deep Impact: Unintended consequences of journal rank

Hilton Gibson hilton.gibson at gmail.com
Sat Mar 30 02:56:03 SAST 2013

Most researchers acknowledge an intrinsic hierarchy in the scholarly
journals ('journal rank') that they submit their work to, and adjust not
only their submission but also their reading strategies accordingly. On the
other hand, much has been written about the negative effects of
institutionalizing journal rank as an impact measure. So far, contributions
to the debate concerning the limitations of journal rank as a scientific
impact assessment tool have either lacked data, or relied on only a few
studies. In this review, we present the most recent and pertinent data on
the consequences of our current scholarly communication system with respect
to various measures of scientific quality (such as utility/citations,
methodological soundness, expert ratings or retractions). These data
corroborate previous hypotheses: using journal rank as an assessment tool
is bad scientific practice. Moreover, the data lead us to argue that any
journal rank (not only the currently-favored Impact Factor) would have this
negative impact. Therefore, we suggest that abandoning journals altogether,
in favor of a library-based scholarly communication system, will ultimately
be necessary. This new system will use modern information technology to
vastly improve the filter, sort and discovery functions of the current
journal system.
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