Last May, I wrote about ”An insurrection against “journal impact factors” in science?”
Now, we learn from Nature News Blog:
A record number of journals — 66 of them, including 33 37* new offenders — have been banned from this year’s impact-factor list (released today) because of excessive self-citation or because of ‘citation stacking’ (in which journals cite each other to excessive amounts). This year, the named-and-shamed titles include the International Journal of Crashworthiness and the Iranian Journal of Fuzzy Systems. Only 51 were banned last year (28 new offenders), and 34 the year before that. Along with the record numbers, Thomson Reuters has posted a new explanation of why it decides to ban journals — essentially because the self-citations distort the rankings. *Thomson Reuters updated the number of new offenders from 33, to 37, on 20 June.
Apparently, as a metric, impact factor is getting worse.
Gregor Mendel wouldn’t have stood a chance. His work was unnoticed when he did it.
The main lesson is that any system one human being can develop, another can manipulate, so there is no substitute for good judgement.
Second, over time, such systems become a dead hand. Put another way, many more tenured Darwin profs could act to manipulate rankings than could any critics, coming from whatever position. Thus, the dead hand rules.