Misleading metrics


It is not just the quick peer review process, low publishing costs that attract researchers to publish in gray open access journals, it is also the demands from the unverisities and others who demand that reseach results should be spread (published) – preferably in open access journals. Due to different reasons the market for gray open access journals and publishers has grown bigger and it has been and continues to be difficult to differentiate between a respectable and gray journals. There are som signs which can help one to decide whether a journal/publisher is serious or not, among other things guide to gray journals and Scholarly Open Access blog.

One of the signs of a serious journals has been Journal Impact Factor (JIF). It indicates how many of a journal’s articles are cited and how many times during a specific time period, often two or five years. It is Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report (JCR) (only available for staff and students of University of Borås via this link, there are no free resources to control whether a journals has JIF or not) which calculates these numbers. Scopus (a product from Elsevier) has calculated similar numbers but called it SJR (SCImago Journal Rank). The companies do not have the same method to calculate the numbers. A journal can have both JIF/SJR, one or the other or neither.

The reason impact factor is important is that researchers receive points in different evaluations based on in which journals they have published their research and in the end receive money for publications in high impact journals. It might take several years for a journal to get an impact which is calculated in JCR. There are some criteria for a journal to receive JCR, e.g. journal has had to exist some years, be published in a timely fashion and have high enough quality according to JCR to be included in their journal index. This means that there are only a few, if any, gray journals which could have an impact factor.

The problem now is that during the last year quite a few web pages have been created which state that they calculate impact factor for journals. This is due to the high competition among gray journals and one way to come ahead in the competition is to have an impact factor. There are two ways for gray journals to have an impact factor: lie or buy one from these companies dealing with misleadning metrics.[1]

There is a list of pages dealing with misleadning metrics.

In the example below the company has tried to give an example of how they calculate ASI-Impact factor. Compare the text from ASI to that from Wikipedia; ASI hase plagiarized their text from Wikipedia. Click to enlarge the images.

asi wikiPieta Eklund

[1] There are those who say it is good these companies exist because maybe the decision makers and research evaluators would not use impact factor to describe the quality of research articles and journals.