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Guest Post: Measuring Impact in the field of Microbiology

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How do we judge whether a research paper is any good? One straightforward way is to measure how often the article is downloaded online – but that doesn’t tell us if the readers actually thought the article was significant once they’d read it. Instead we can monitor how often an article is cited in the writings of other scientists. We can even do this for all the articles published by a particular journal (for example, in the last two or five years) and divide the total cites by the number of articles published to get an impact factor: Bingo, journal impact instantly measured!

Impact factors are a flawed and derided metric but – whisper it – by and large they also reflect many microbiologists’ perceptions and prejudices about the status of the journals in which we publish. When drafting a manuscript, it’s likely that each of us approaches choosing which journal we want to submit our work to in much the same way: we assess the scope and significance of the piece of work to be written up and then have a gut instinct as to which journal will accept it.
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Written by microbelog

25/07/2011 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Journals, Posts

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