Based on a paper presented at the UKSG seminar ‘Measure for Measure, or Much Ado About Nothing? Measuring the quality and value of online journals’, London, Thursday 14 June 2007
The publishing community expresses ambivalence about the journal impact factor (JIF), yet its use continues to proliferate. New proposals to amend, replace, or supplement it abound, but it is unclear whether any of the alternatives offer significant improvement. In spite of new approaches from Thomson Scientific and other innovators, the importance of the JIF persists. This continued importance should cause us to step back and reconsider our views about citation metrics in the context of the underlying trends shaping the evolution of the scholarly research community.A better understanding of the decisions that citation metrics support can provide us with a stronger foundation for future use and development of relevant indicators and measures of research value.This analysis must be based on a firm grasp of the real needs faced by the key stakeholders and the place of citation metrics in their work and careers.