Category Archives: Publish or Perish 2014

An important read on “Impact Factor Mania” from Arturo Casadevall & Ferric Fang

Really important article in mBio: Causes for the Persistence of Impact Factor Mania.

Full citation : Casadevall A, Fang FC. 2014. Causes for the persistence of impact factor mania. mBio 5(2):e00064-14. doi:10.1128/mBio.00064-14.

In the article the authors discuss what they call “Impact Factor Mania” and outline what they believe the causes of it are (hyper competition for funding and jobs, paucity of objective measures of the importance of scientific work, hyper specialization of science, benefits to selected journals, benefits to scientists, national endorsements and prestige by association).  They then discuss some of the problems with such mania including distortions in the scientific enterprise, inability to accurately predict impact, ignoring many important studies, limited correlation between IF and article citation, imperfection of citation rate, delay in communications, and creation of perverse incentives.  They discuss some of the existing proposals for reform including DORA and a boycott of high impact journals.  And finally they discuss what scientists can do including: reforming criteria for funding and promotion, use of diverse metrics, increase interdisciplinary interactions, encourage elite journals to become less elite, and a return to essential scientific values.

The article is a perfect follow up on our recent “Publish or Perish” meeting.

Conference session on the Changing Value Proposition for Scholarly Publishing

Session 4 of the “Publish or perish? The future of academic publishing and careers” conference at UC Davis is taking shape. We’re calling it “Changing the Value Proposition of Publishing” and we have a terrific lineup of speakers. To summarize:

Publishing costs, particularly those related to replication/distribution, have decreased dramatically in the online environment but expertise is still expensive. At the same time, what constitutes publishing is expanding to include many more forms of scholarship, some at considerable cost. While the value is distributed across the ecosystem of stakeholders, many of the costs and risks are borne by institutions, for example pitting authors/readers against publishers to police against piracy and insure perpetual access to digital publications. In the online environment, who should bear the cost of expertise, whether of authors, peer reviewers, editors, distributors, facilitators? Who accrues the value across the ecosystem of stakeholders – authors, societies, non- and for-profit publishers, institutions (including libraries), and readers? How are the affordances of the Internet and new modes of scholarly communication changing this cost and value distribution?

Some publishers have captured the value of the lower costs of distribution and passed them through to authors/readers/institutions, while allowing for variation in the cost/benefit of quality filters (e.g. peer review). Meanwhile new and emerging fields have different expectations for scholarly output and what must be published — e.g, data, software, databases, games, protocols, experimental techniques — with potentially higher costs. What is publishable scholarship now? Cultural artifacts, reagents, biological specimens? All of these have scholarly value and should accrue credit to their creators/curators. How can we recognize authorship/ownership and how can should credit/value be distributed across complex groups of people/institutions?

Greg Tananbaum, ScholarNext
Peter Binfield, PeerJ
Allison Fish, UC Davis
Todd Vision, Dryad & UNC Chapel Hill

Panel questions include:
1. Has the cost of publishing really gone down because of technology or is it just shifting to different participants?
2. Who should and who does bear the cost of scholarly communication among the author, institution, and reader?
3. Can we identify the value to “readers” of these new forms of communication like data, games, software, etc.? how do we capture that value economically?
4. Who accrues the value of scholarly publications? Just the author or others too?
5. If capturing the value for authors requires formal credit, how can we solve the attribution stacking (or distributed credit) problem?