Journal impact factor losing impact

George Lozano, blogging about a recent study he published on journal impact facors:

Furthermore, we found that until 1990, of all papers, the proportion of top (i.e., most cited) papers published in the top (i.e., highest IF) journals had been increasing. So, the top journals were becoming the exclusive depositories of the most cited research. However, since 1991 the pattern has been the exact opposite. Among top papers, the proportion NOT published in top journals was decreasing, but now it is increasing. Hence, the best (i.e., most cited) work now comes from increasingly diverse sources, irrespective of the journals’ IFs.

To me, this is an indicator of the power of, first scholarly databases, then the internet, to make important work more discoverable. When I began graduate school, I remember doing literature work in the library and watching all the faculty come for their weekly journal check-in to “stay current” (or name-check themselves and their pals). How much more efficient and effective it is now to rely on things like saved database searches to keep us informed of important advances in our field. And database searches democratize by returning all related citations, not just those from so-called top-tier journals. This is a great step forward, I think.

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