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13 years ago @ BenchFly Blog - The Evolution of Scien... · 0 replies · +2 points

The impact factor has come to dominate the journal landscape. It is helpful as one measure of use but as Shirley points out there are lots of problems with it. Journals publishing in fields with lots of practitioners (e.g., cell biology, molecular genetics) will have high impact factors while those publishing in smaller fields (e.g., pharmacology) will have lower impact factors. This is independent of the quality of what the journals actually publish. Also, journals do indeed game the system - check out the percentage of reviews that a given journal publishes as a percentage of its total number or articles. How many of them are published in the first of the year so they'll have a full year to be cited compared to an article published in December? I recently heard from a young colleague who got a letter from a journal editor about a review article he submitted in which the editor suggested he solicit a well-known colleague to serve as senior author to make the article "higher impact." This was in spite of the fact that the review article was not in the senior colleague's field. That's one of the worst I've heard and borders on just plain unethical.

Students, postdocs, and young faculty obsess about the impact factor and most can tell you the values for all the journals in their fields. There's nothing wrong with that because we should always try to get as much visibility for our articles as possible. But for some people, it's publish in Science or Nature or don't publish. This is especially dangerous for young faculty who spend years doing huge numbers of experiments to construct the perfect paper only to see it rejected by that "high visibility" journal. They'd have been better off hitting a few singles and doubles while lining up a home run because study sections and tenure committees look at the number of papers as well as their quality as markers of productivity. And there are many other excellent journals with slightly lower impact factors that will get the article widely read.

As Shirley points out, most journals are available in every research laboratory in the world because of electronic publishing. Most publishers have download statisticsfor all their journals, which are excellent indicators of the value of an article. Many publishers are listing the most downloaded articles on a regular basis, which is especially helpful for articles in smaller fields or in fields where a significant proportion of the practitioners don't publish a lot (e.g., the pharmaceutical or chemical industries). We may be stuck with the impact factor for a while but I agree with Shirley that other measures will be considered to evaluate the quality of publications. Of course, one of the best parameters is what YOU think of the article.

13 years ago @ BenchFly Blog - Group Meeting Food: Wh... · 0 replies · +1 points

With a little imagination, one kind find alternatives to the traditional pizza for about the same price. But it can complicate the logistics of pickup, delivery, and distribution. It's worth the trouble though.

13 years ago @ BenchFly Blog - Your Career in a Sente... · 0 replies · +3 points

The elevator pitch is a really important skill that comes into play in talking to your parents, talking to taxpayers, teaching, or writing grant applications. Get to the point in plain language. In short or long presentations, avoiding jargon is really critical because once you throw out a term that no one understands they will get lost and miss the next few sentences. This is usually enough for them to lose track of what you're trying to say and just tune out. There's no getting them back. Look at the audience's (or person's) eyes and body language for feedback. If you see you've lost them, stop and backtrack to reengage.