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In the wake of the hard-hitting article by Rockefeller University Press editors in the Journal of Cell Biology (JCB), in which they describe how Thomson's ubiquitous impact factor twice flunked a scientific test, Thomson Scientific is now fighting back. They have created an entire new forum defending their coveted impact factor. In the featured articles on the site, senior TS employees do their best at damage control. But while Thomson is still trying to limit the 'impact' the JCB article has had on the science community, there is already a second front opening: Declan Butler reported in the journal Nature yesterday that there finally is competition for the impact factor. From the article:
A new Internet database lets users generate on-the-fly citation statistics of published research papers for free. The tool also calculates papers' impact factors using a new algorithm similar to PageRank, the algorithm Google uses to rank web pages. The open-access database is collaborating with Elsevier, the giant Amsterdam-based science publisher, and its underlying data come from Scopus, a subscription abstracts database created by Elsevier in 2004.

With Thomson Scientific charging significant money for its services, th new free service "ScImago Journal Rank" (SJR) couldn't have come a worse time for the embatteled company. Will Thomson survive the double-hitter? Or will everyone now rank their favorite journals according to the SJR? Time will tell and for now I'm very pleased to finally see some competition in this critical area.

However, as usual, one should take such otherwise good news with some caution. To me, it is not clear, yet, how transparent the new database is. Also, given that Elsevier is behind the enterprise, one may be inclined wonder if the service will remain free of charge after it's well-adopted (if it ever is). Dealers only provide the first fix for free and the science community sure is addictd to journal rankings...
Posted on Thursday 03 January 2008 - 18:34:56 comment: 0

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