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An impact event is a collision between astronomical objects causing measurable effects

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Nice post indeed, but aren’t you caught red handed when you write in this post

that “the Impact Factor for PLoS ONE is a respectable 4.4.” ?

A research expert insists the world could end because of a catastrophic meteor impact – but we’re safe for now.

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Thanks too for the link to the Nature commentary, which is interesting, though seems to buy into the ‘it’s high impact so it must be good’ idea, rather than questioning the context in which ‘high impact’ papers are cited in subsequent work (my suspicion remains that they are cited more in introductory paragraphs than in methods, say).

Many thanks Stephen for contributing to this important issue in science. However, I disagree that is a matter of statistical literacy. If “There’s some variation in skewedness but not much”, then any other measure of central tendency would have the same problem. So, to evaluate scientific contributions, we need rationality, not precisely statistical literacy.


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I don’t wish to under-estimate the difficulties. I am well aware of the risks involved, particularly to young researchers trying to forge a career in a culture that is so inured to the impact factor. It will take a determined and concerted effort from those in a position of influence, not least by senior researchers, funders and university administrators. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick. Two decades of criticism have done little to break the addiction to a measure of worth that is statistically worthless.

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There’s nothing intrinsically ‘wrong’ with the Impact Factor but I agree it makes sense when assessing a journal to make use of a range of metrics to get a fuller picture and to fit need (e.g. 5 yr impact factor, SNIP, SJR, speed to publish). An analogy is car selling: some buyers look at horsepower, others the safety rating or fuel consumption, usually a combination. (I’m a journals publisher for Elsevier.)

I am sick of impact factors and so is science

Actually Andrew, the point (or one of the points, at least) is that journal impact factors are lousy for assessing individual scientists or papers. To use your analogy, it would be like saying “Fords have better average fuel economy; I drive a Ford; therefore my driving is fuel-efficient”. Or, again, “Fords are involved in fewer accidents than other cars; I drive a Ford; therefore I am a safe driver”.

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You make many good points, oh wise man, but I do not accept your premise that “The question is then whether papers are made freely available before or after editorial selection and/or peer review”. We could have both. Pre-publication is a useful filter but, as we know, imperfect. And yet its valuations stick fast in terms of the journal impact factor. We need measures and means of assessment that tap into the wisdom of those members of the field into which the research report has been thrown.

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Among many unusual declarations from Rodriguez are his support for claims that have been procured for future executions of those who criticise President Obama and that thousands of French, German, Russian and Chinese soldiers are already stationed in Puerto Rico with the intention of seizing control from the local authorities after the disaster (surely if Rodriguez is correct about the impact zone, Puerto Rico would be among the worst places to base this invasion force…) Ridiculous as these may sound, unfortunately thousands of people seem to take these seriously. Deliberately adding to the confusion were other lying emails and YouTube videos alleging that ““, a US military exercise scheduled for 15 July to 15 September 2015, was really a cover for disaster preparations. The military.