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Universities urged to unite against journal impact

An over-reliance on journal impact factor as a means of measuring an academic's worth could be remedied by more universities signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, the Council for the Defence of British Universities has said.

Only two UK universities—University College London and the University of Sussex—have signed up to Dora despite the declaration being almost two years old. First discussed at an annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in December 2012, the declaration addresses the need to eliminate journal-based metrics in funding, appointment and promotion considerations, the need to assess research on its own merits, and the need to capitalise on the benefits of online publication, such as the chance to explore new indicators of significance and impact.

“It’s hard to shake the widespread belief that publication in a high impact journal is some measure of intrinsic quality of research,” the council says. This is despite the recent Research Excellence Framework forbidding the use of journal impact factors by its panels and despite private funders, such as the Wellcome Trust, making clear that “the intrinsic merit of the work, and not the title of the journal” is what should be considered when making funding decisions.

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