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Does the Journal Impact Factor help make a Good Indicator of Academic Performance?

Mishra, SK (2009): Does the Journal Impact Factor help make a Good Indicator of Academic Performance?

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After the notification of the University Grants Commission (Minimum Qualifications for Appointment of Teachers and other Academic Staff in Universities and Colleges and Measures for the Maintenance of Standards in Higher Education) Regulations, 2009 on September 23rd 2009, publication of research papers/articles in reputed journals has become an important factor in assessment of the academic performance of teachers in colleges and universities in India. One of the measures of reputation and academic standard (rank or importance) of a journal is the so-called ‘Impact Factor.’ This study makes a detailed analysis of Journal Impact Factors across the disciplines. It finds that if journal impact factor is used to assess the academic performance of individuals (for the purpose of selection, promotion, etc) and it is not borne in mind that due to vast differences in the nature of distribution of impact factors across the disciplines they are not justifiably comparable, a below average scholar in the one discipline (wherein the journal impact factor is negatively skewed) will rank higher and will be honored (and benefitted) more than another scholar in some other discipline (wherein the journal impact factor is positively skewed). It may be noted that in the university departments there are specializations with low impact factor journals and other specializations with very high impact factor journals. But the teachers/researchers of different specializations in the departments compete with each other for promotion. Whether the researchers with an unfortunate specialization (wherein the journal impact factor is positively skewed) receive justice on such criteria remains an open question.

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