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Elife. 2019 Jul 31;8. pii: e47338. doi: 10.7554/eLife.47338.

Use of the Journal Impact Factor in academic review, promotion, and tenure evaluations.

Author information

1
Departamento de Física, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico.
2
Scholarly Communications Lab, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
3
John F Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
4
Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, United States.
5
School of Publishing, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
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Contributed equally

Abstract

We analyzed how often and in what ways the Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is currently used in review, promotion, and tenure (RPT) documents of a representative sample of universities from the United States and Canada. 40% of research-intensive institutions and 18% of master's institutions mentioned the JIF, or closely related terms. Of the institutions that mentioned the JIF, 87% supported its use in at least one of their RPT documents, 13% expressed caution about its use, and none heavily criticized it or prohibited its use. Furthermore, 63% of institutions that mentioned the JIF associated the metric with quality, 40% with impact, importance, or significance, and 20% with prestige, reputation, or status. We conclude that use of the JIF is encouraged in RPT evaluations, especially at research-intensive universities, and that there is work to be done to avoid the potential misuse of metrics like the JIF.

KEYWORDS:

academic careers; computational biology; higher education; impact factor; institutional policy; none; scholarly communications; systems biology

Conflict of interest statement

EM is a member of the DORA Steering Committee and an advisor for the Metrics Toolkit, both volunteer positions. LS, CM, LM, MN, JA No competing interests declared

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