October 14, 2005
Impact Factors Run Into Competition
Researchers look for other ways to evaluate a paper's importance
For some scientists, it's the height of irony: The scientific method depends on being able to check what others have done. But the growing use of citation statistics and impact factors in academe goes against that basic principle, because researchers say they cannot assess the basic data used to produce those measurements, which are controlled by a private company, Thomson ISI.
"It's a bit of a paradoxical situation in science, where data are so critical," says Emilie Marcus, editor