Academic journal article International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology

The "Impact Factor Style of Thinking": A New Theoretical Framework

Academic journal article International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology

The "Impact Factor Style of Thinking": A New Theoretical Framework

Article excerpt

The impact factor is a quantitative measure that is widely used to establish a hierarchy between the relevance of some scientific publications compared to others. Recognition of university research activity and excellence is mainly based on rating publications according to quantitative criteria. Any material that does not have an impact factor is not only academically irrelevant but also politically useless. There is a lot of controversy about the political and academic use of the impact factor. Some authors consider that it is "unsuitable" (van Raan, 2012), has "little credibility" (Baum, 2011) or is a "source of frustration" (Laufer, 2013), a "perverse incentive" (Calver, Lilith, & Dickman., 2013) or a "highly polemic metric" (Buela-Casal & Zych, 2012) that should be "abandoned" according to Vanclay (2012) and "eliminated" or at least be the subject of a moratorium according to Misteli (2013). Others consider that it is "not yet replaceable" (Brody, 2013) or that it is "appropriate" (Moed et al., 2012) to assess the quality of journals. Moreover, Pudovkin and Garfield (2012) consider that the impact factor is an informative measure of the visibility of a journal and its frequency of use and argue that there is no other better measure in "accuracy, transparency of calculation, ease of use and interpretation". In short, the academic impact factor policy has some shortcomings. This led to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, better known as DORA, which recommended not using the impact factor ( There seems to be some agreement to go beyond the index factor as it is currently used".

The purpose of the present study was to lay the foundations for a new framework for research on how the academic impact factor policy strongly influences what researchers think, do and expect. To better explain what the "impact factor style of thinking" is exactly, the article is divided into the following sections: organizational or institutional perspective; the science market; onedimensional thought; the article as a literary genre; and finally, the consequences of the impact factor ethos.

The impact factor style of thinking

A style of thinking or intellectual style is a process that involves giving preference to a certain way of thinking and focusing attention, time, psychological energy and financial resources on achieving politically valuable publications. When this theoretical and practical approach is applied to the impact factor it leads to the "impact factor style of thinking". This style of thinking implies making a strategic use of psychological and financial resources, acquired knowledge, group thinking and organizational variables to achieve academically valuable and profitable publications. We propose the following characteristics of the "impact factor style of thinking" in order to conceptualize and evaluate this phenomenon.

Organizational or institutional perspective

- Acceptance of the impact factor philosophy is an "institutional fact" of a university education policy aimed at developing assessments and ratings and determining how financial resources should be allocated. Therefore, as a "fact" of educational and organizational policy, the impact factor strongly influences what researchers feel, think, do and expect from their studies and publications.

- It establishes a hierarchy of rankings. After all, the impact factor is a statistical number that contributes to building a reality. It establishes a hierarchy or order of publications, researchers and institutions (see, for example, the Shanghai Ranking or the multidimensional or user-driven higher education ranking concept of the European Union (Bengoetxea & Buela-Casal, 2013)). The numbers used to quantify the impact factor and the discourse of the policy of university research and quality create the social reality of research "excellence".

- It generates rankings that create elites. …

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