IMPACT FACTOR: DOES IT HAVE AN IMPACT?
AbstractEditor,The journal’s impact factor is at present, considered ayard stick for measuring the relative quality andsignificance of a journal. It is defined as thefrequency with which the ‘average article’ in ajournal has been cited in a particular year or period.1For a given year, this is calculated as the total numberof citations received in that year to articles publishedin the previous two years divided by the total numberof citable items published by the journal in the sametwo years. The Impact Factor was devised by and iscalculated by The Institute for ScientificInformation® (ISI®), now known as ‘ThomsonScientific’.Unfortunately as stated by Dr. Abbasi inBMJ 2004, ISI® only follows about 5% of over130,000 known medical and scientific journalspublished annually. Moreover, the citation rankinginvented by Eugene Garfield is scientificallymeaningless as is established by indisputableevidence and even the inventor for a long time haswarned people not to trust impact factor for solelyjudging the quality of a journal and in an article hastermed its usage as ‘dangerous’.2Despite the realisation on a global scale thatimpact factors are a faulty system of assessment of ajournal3, we tend to agree with Hoeffel4 that ‘impactFactor is not a perfect tool to measure the quality ofarticles but there is nothing better and it has theadvantage of already being in existence and is,therefore, a good technique for scientific evaluation.Even today career advancement, getting funding andgrants all depends on how many articles one haspublished in journals with good impact factors. Withincreased awareness about impact factors and theirpotential impact on career growth and internationalrecognition many researchers are now targetinginternational indexed journals with good impactfactors. The number of publications from Pakistan ininternational indexed journals with impact factorsarose by about 179% from 1992 to 2002 reflectingthe change in this trend.5 In this dim scenario thelocal non-indexed medical journals face a seriouschallenge. They will have to work hard towardssustained improvement of the journal fromsubmission to publication as the time, as yet has notcome to ignore the numbers. This will ultimatelyhave huge implications for evidence based medicinein third world countries especially Pakistan wherelocal journals provide good evidence comparable tointernational standards.
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