impact factor session

I just got back from the session on “beyond the impact factor.” I was really excited about it, but it ended up being a lot of what I knew, save the presentation on the University of California digital library study looking at value-based pricing, which was excellent. Eugene Garfield was the first speaker, but aside from criticizing people who criticize the flaws of the impact factor, his speech was fairly much like what you’d read on his web site. I was hoping for some more balance in the debate, but there wasn’t much. Brian Cameron’s article in portal was much better an overview of the impact factor.

Mentioned in the introduction to the speakers were a couple of journal evaluation measures that are being looked at: one from the UKSG 2007 meeting, the cost-per-cite model put forth by Bergstrom and McAfee, the Eigenfactor (never had heard of that one, I’ll admit), and the use of time spent on using a journal as a factor.

Part of the value-based pricing presentation talked about value-added contributions as one factor of journal pricing. Editors, for instance, who voluntarily edit journals at their institution do so at a cost of about $12,000/year per editor, just for space and time. Another component of value-based pricing was realistically looking at the cost increases publishers must bear per year using the Producer Product Index, which averaged a 1.36% increase from 2003-2006. (Obviously, journal prices are rising at a slightly higher rate.)

Another factor was the Bergstrom-McAfee RCI (which I missed the full name of)–essentially it looks at the prices of for-profit journals in a field in comparison to the prices of non-profit journals in the same field. If for-profit titles have a RCI score of 1 or less, they are good value (economically) titles; if the score is 1.5 or higher, it is a poor value title. These factors can be used in negotiations with publishers, though the University of California researchers have just begun to look at how that could be used.

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