We understand John Tregoning’s frustration with the slow progress in eliminating undue reliance on journal impact factors in research assessment (Nature 558, 345; 2018). However, his claim that no alternative has emerged overlooks the many examples of good practice implemented by funders, learned societies, research institutes and individual scientists. The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) showcases some of these (see https://sfdora.org).
There is no quick fix to the problems arising from the misapplication of impact factors in evaluating researchers. Assessing research across disciplines and geography is complex, and DORA has been careful to call out the need to address that complexity. Settling for the least-bad option is not the answer.
We agree with Tregoning’s suggestions for diversifying measures of academic success. Examples include data and methods sharing, teaching, collegiality and public engagement. These are in line with initiatives that are under way. Universal agreement on best practices has yet to emerge, but progress is being made.
We appreciate the stresses of shaping a career in a highly competitive system, especially when the rules of the game are changing. But that change is necessary and will take time. DORA is committed to speeding things along so that we can provide the clarity Tregoning calls for.
Nature 559, 32 (2018)
See Comment: A better measure of research from the global south
Competing Financial Interests
SC is the chair of the DORA steering committee.