Do impact factor journals create real impact?
IN RECENT years many scientific journals have multiplied an “Unreal” impact factor (IF) through falsification such as publishing a large number of Review Papers or asking the authors to cite the published papers of those journals even where not that appropriate. The journals having 3+ impact factor means the great impact on developing news science. But the question is, “Where is this impact coming from?” Impact factor is the tricky thing, a game that certain researchers play, like you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours. Simply, if a researchers paper gets cited hundreds of times in ISI research journals of vague names and places, it may enhance the value of the researcher, but what impact would it create on the society? Many researchers prefer to publish in journals with high impact factors because there they get more academic credits for their publications. Factually, impact factor itself is problematic for many reasons; mainly it is based on citations, which is not a satisfactory measure. High-impact journals are also often read more widely by people that yield a troubling circularity in terms of citation numbers. Worse, the whole system is prone to being gamed in various ways. Most high impact journals are highly cited not because of their published research papers but because of the Review Articles. At the same time, the real trouble is that impact factors have real-world effect. Many countries use impact factor of publications as a very strong weight in funding and promotion decisions. It also helps the supervisors as a carrot to dangle in front of their postdocs. Realistically, impact factor is a crutch that is most often used by impotent, unimaginative and incompetent committees (not the members of the committees) in academic institutions for recruitment, promotions, and fiscal matters. The more fundamental question that may be asked is; can we use this impact factor measure to quantify the contribution of our science leaders like Dr. Rafi Muhammad Chaudhry, Dr. Abdus Salam, Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, Dr. Raziuddin, Dr. Riazuddin and so many others who have created a sizeable impact on the society? This impact factor is hopelessly out of sync with society and industry. The challenge for HEC in Pakistan is to define an impact factor that has relevance for Pakistan. It should measure impact on the industry, new ventures, new products, new opportunities, new jobs, and social and economic change. We should have passion of research to serve the community rather than just focusing on the impact factors. All of this is a big problem if one cares about fostering good science. And the responsibility goes to Higher Education Commission…..