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Indian J Dermatol. 2009;54(1):83-5. doi: 10.4103/0019-5154.48998.

Impactitis: the impact factor myth syndrome.

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Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami, FL, USA.



In the early 1960s, Eugene Garfield and Irving Sher created the journal impact factor to help select journals for the Science Citation Index (SCI). Today it has become a widespread subject of controversy even for Garfield, the man who created it who is quoted saying "Impact Factor is not a perfect tool to measure the quality of articles but there is nothing better and it has the advantage of already being in existence and is, therefore, a good technique for scientific evaluation". The use of the term "impact factor" has gradually evolved, especially in Europe, to include both journal and author impact. This ambiguity often causes problems. It is one thing to use impact factors to compare journals and quite another to use them to compare authors. Journal impact factors generally involve relatively large populations of articles and citations. Individual authors, on average, produce much smaller numbers of articles.


Impact factor, an index based on the frequency with which a journal's articles are cited in scientific publications, is a putative marker of journal quality. However, empiric studies on impact factor's validity as an indicator of quality are lacking. The authors try to evaluate and highlight the validity of Impact Factors and its significance as a tool of assessment for scientific publications.


Analysis of the several reports in literature and from their own point of view.


A journal's impact factor is based on 2 elements: the numerator, which is the number of citations in the current year to any items published in a journal in the previous 2 years, and the denominator, which is the number of substantive articles (source items) published in the same 2 years. The impact factor could just as easily be based on the previous year's articles alone, which would give an even greater weight to rapidly changing fields.


Impact Factor; Journal Citation Report; Science Citation Index

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