Clarivate Analytics: Continued Omnia vanitas Impact Factor Culture

Science and Engineering Ethics 24 (1):291-297 (2018)
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This opinion paper takes aim at an error made recently by Clarivate Analytics in which it sent out an email that congratulated academics for becoming exclusive members of academia’s most cited elite, the Highly Cited Researchers. However, that email was sent out to an undisclosed number of non-HCRs, who were offered an apology shortly after, through a bulk mail, which tried to down-play the importance of the error, all the while praising the true HCRs. When Clarivate Analytics senior management was contacted, the company declined to offer an indication of the number of academics who had been contacted and erroneously awarded the HCR status. We believe that this regrettable blunder, together with the opacity offered by the company, fortify the corporate attitude about the value of the journal impact factor, and what it represents, namely a marketing tool that is falsely used to equate citations with quality, worth, or influence. The continued commercialization of metrics such as the JIF is at the heart of their use to assess the “quality” of a researcher, their work, or a journal, and contributes to a great extent to driving scientific activities towards a futile endeavor.



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