Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Thu Feb 22 10:32:39 EST 1996

On 22 Feb 1996, Roman Fried wrote:

> Hi
> I heard many scientists talking about these impact factors of journals,
> but I never saw a list.
> Does anybody know where i can lookup these values?

You probably can find this stuff in Science Citation
Index. The problem of ranking obsession in the modern
world (especially in science) is that it does much
more harm than good. It is clear for everyone that the
value of scientific idea is hardly dependent on the
quality of a paper it is printed on. But what is obvious 
even in a junior school, is not easlily understanable
to the twisted minds of learned-heads. Even those 
who see the idiocity of ranking and 'impact factors' are 
under immense pressure to comply with the rules of game. 

As a result, instead of doing what they may believe is the 
most challenging, interesting and important in their field
(but almost always it is also the most risky), scientists 
try to publish as much as possible in the 'highest ranked' 
journals (publish or perish hysteria). 

Ranking rat race is the major impediment (not a stimulator) 
of science progess. Too many people, too few discoveries. 
It will be even worse if we proceed further along 
the 'competition' route. From being a relatively respected 
segment of society about a generation ago we (scientists) 
are by now mostly producing public scepticism and suspition.
This is not the end however. By keep pushing 'rankings' 
and 'competitions' we are on our way to becoming an open
laughing stock. Example: by now ca. 1,000 physicists for 
some 10 years can't figure out a true nature of a SINGLE 
effect (mechanism of high-temperature superconductivity). 
Even if one of them will succeed, the yield (1 effect per 
1,000 people per 10 years) is ludicrously low.
Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546


> thanks
> Roman
> Roman Fried
> Institut fuer Klinische Chemie
> Universitaetsspital Zuerich
> rmf at

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