The Fraud of Journal Impact Factors

Elsevier, the giant journal-publishing monster, has always sounded to me like something out of Tolkein, a fallen Elvish city now inhabited only by ghouls and barrow wights, maybe. Yes, I’m a nerd (though not an exceptionally good Tolkein nerd; I never finished The Silmarillion). 

Here’s a new article that argues academic journal “impact factors” are basically fraudulent, with no or little basis in reality.

Of course, open access, too, is frequently a disaster, extracting thousands of dollars from faculty for the privilege of being hosted on some website with a shiny layout and a promise that it will be around forever. That’s fine if you’re at a rich university with money to pay for it, but most of us aren’t, so we dip into our own pocket or stick with the closed access journal.

The only way to win is not to play, except that people need jobs, and our imaginary prestige economy claims that these imaginary factors mean things.

My basic theory: Nearly everyone is doing outstanding work nearly all the time and our rankings are meaningless.

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