Alberto Pepe on Metrics & Impact (AMA)

The Authorea Team

On September 15th, 2016 Authorea CEO and Cofounder, Alberto Pepe, encouraged the Reddit science community to ask him anything. Below are a few excerpts from the AMA on the topic of metrics and impactClick here for the full thread.
Read general AMA excerpts here or specific discussions on the topic of quality control in publishing or Authorea's business model.
Hi Alberto,

I think what you're doing is great; I would love to see a shift in how academic literature is shared and I think we are long overdue for the modernization that has already been readily accepted in other fields.

Unfortunately, I find that these academic journals all appear to suffer from low impact factors currently. What would you say to a budding scientist--who's career depends upon publishing in "high quality" journals--that would encourage them to publish in your journal?

Co-Founder | Authorea

Hi Jenna- I understand your concern: no matter how open and innovative you may want to be, at the end of the day, as a scientist, you are required to publish in "high quality" journals, because that is the only way to get tenure, grants, and recognition in your community. I think that in the next few years we will see new metrics and methods to assess a scientist' contribution (metrics that go way beyond a journal's impact factor and/or number of citations). But, while we wait for that to happen, what can you do TODAY? Two things come to mind:

(1) deposit a pre-print or post-print of your article in an institutional, disciplinary (or any other) repository that is indexed by scholarly search engines. A pre-print is the version immediately prior to what is published in a journal (and post-print immediately after). Even if you lose your copyright on the published version, the pre-print and post-print versions are YOURS. By depositing an open version of your work, you are giving the entire world open access to your work (and you and your work also become more visible!). If you write an article on Authorea, all you have to do is make it public and it will be a pre-print!

(2) if you have datasets and code associated with your work, publish them with the paper. Publishing the data and code behind your papers/images make your work more likely to be reproduced (and again, they make you and your work more visible!). Most journals today do not allow you to deposit data and code with your paper. Putting a link to a dataset in your paper is not enough because those links die with time. There are tools like Figshare, Zenodo and Dataverse that allow you to deposit data/code and get a DOI for it. In Authorea, you can take even a step further and include the data and code inside your paper. My dream is that the paper of the future will make data and code first class citizens.

Grad Student | Biomedical Engineering | Regenerative Medicine

What are your thoughts on the role of impact factor? Does it have a good use, or is it something that you feel should be ignored?

We have run into some question here, because we use impact factor as an initial screen on submissions in /r/science. We set a threshold of 1.5, which allows most science through, while stopping some of the worst quality journals. We have had to do this because we frequently don't have mods available who are familiar enough with a specific sub discipline to determine if a journal is legitimate or fake. Is there a better way that we could apply a quick screen for legitimacy on journal articles, similar to how impact factor works?

Co-Founder | Authorea

Hi kerovon, thanks for the question. The infamous Impact Factor is a measure of the frequency with which the average article in a journal has been cited in a particular period (e.g last 5 years). As such, it's an important metric in the publishers' world. Nature, Cell, Science, all have very high impact factors, and scholars are pushed to submit their 'best' research to these journals. In fact, having an article published in one of these prestigious journals can make the difference between getting tenure or not. This said, research published in a high impact factor journal is not necessarily 'better'. It is usually research that appears groundbreaking and potentially has a broader reach, but not always. Also, to make the paper fit the tight format of a high impact journal, scholars are usually forced to cut down important details, often making their science hard to reproduce. Conversely, an important finding that was not published in a high-impact factor journal might be overlooked, cited less and have smaller immediate reach on the community (which is busy reading the high impact factor journals). My impression is that open repositories (like the arXiv and Authorea) can allow a much more democratic assessment of the importance of a research article, without the need for the existence of an impact factor. The impact of paper should not depend on the impact factor of the journal that decided to publish it, but only on the quality and importance of the science it contains.

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