22 March 2016 12 Comments
The Journal Impact Factor may not be dead, but it is looking pretty ill. When a relatively conservative body like the Australian Research Council (ARC) says:
“The ARC is not prescriptive about what can be included [in a publication list], but applicants should be aware of the widely held view that journal impact factors are a poor measure of an individual’s research performance.” – ARC Frequently Asked Questions for Discovery Projects commencing in 2017, question 4.11
If journal impact factor is a poor measure, what is a good measure of “an individual’s research performance”? How do you know that your publications are any good?
You just know
I get asked this by new academics a lot. The question comes in many forms: “What measures can I use?” “How will people know?” “Where should I publish?”
The unspoken question often revolves around an uncertainty about, or a fear of, the value of their own work. Don’t do that. Don’t pin the value of your work to the judgement of your peers, your promotion committee, or your grant assessors. That way, madness lies.
You know when you have written a good paper. You know when you have, through the pressure of deadlines, or the tragedy of lost data, written a not-so-good paper. Hold onto those feelings, that sense of judgement. It will sustain you.
Knowing that, here are some practical answers to this question.