Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Big problems with ISI data reported by science editors

Got this in an email from one of my lists:


This presumably will be drawing some attention shortly. It is a very disturbing report by editors from the Journal of Cell Biology and the Journal of Experimental Medicine who have joined with the Executive Director of the Rockefeller University Press in reporting their inability to verify published impact factors using data provided provided by ISI itself. Their fruitless efforts to replicate published impact factors for their own and other journals revealed numerous and serious errors in several data sets provided by ISI and call into question the validity of both ISI's dataset and their published impact factors. If the problems they encountered are widespread, then the host of evaluative decisions that rely at least in part on published impact factors are suspect. Published impact factors affect authors' decisions about manuscript submission, funding awards, and promotion and tenure. While critiques of the use of impact factors are quite common, this is the first serious question raised about the underlying validity of the data used to calculate impact factors and therefore the accurracy of the metrics that are published.

The editorial by Mike Rossner, Heather Van Epps, and Emma Hill was published in the Journal of Cell Biology and is available at

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