One of today's free features, in the Wall Street Journal, talks about science journals and their infamous rankings.
Here are some excerpts
Scientists and editors say scientific journals increasingly are manipulating rankings -- called "impact factors" -- that are based on how often papers they publish are cited by other researchers.
Just as television shows have Nielsen ratings and colleges have the U.S. News rankings, science journals have impact factors. Now there is mounting concern that attempts to manipulate impact factors are harming scientific research.
Conceived 40 years ago, impact factors are essentially a grading system of how important the papers a journal publishes are. "Importance" is measured by how many other papers cite it, indicating that the discoveries, methodologies or insights it describes are advancing science.
Impact factors matter to publishers' bottom lines because librarians rely on them to make purchasing decisions. Annual subscriptions to some journals can cost upwards of $10,000.
Journals can manipulate impact factors with legitimate editorial decisions. One strategy is to publish many review articles, says Vicki Cohn, managing editor of Mary Ann Liebert Inc., a closely held New Rochelle, N.Y., company that publishes 59 journals. Reviews don't report new results but instead summarize recent findings in a field. Since it is easier for scientists to cite one review than the dozens of studies that it summarizes, reviews get a lot of citations, raising a journal's impact score.
Be sure to read the entire article!