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3 Mathematics Associations Caution Against Overreliance on Impact Factor

Three mathematics associations — the International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the International Mathematical Union, and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics — have examined citation-based statistics such as the impact factor and the h-index, and concluded that the measures are often misunderstood and misused.

The use of the impact factor, developed as a way of ranking scientific journals, as the main tool to evaluate the quality of research has boomed during the last decade, and this measure has become crucial in hiring and tenure decisions, as well as in the awarding of grants.

In a report released this month, the associations say that the impact factor and other citation-based statistics should not be dismissed as tools for assessing research quality, but they warn against using such metrics as the only evaluation method and not taking into consideration other factors, such as peer review. —Maria José Viñas

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