Your News story “Cash for papers: putting a premium on publication” (Nature 441, 792; 200610.1038/441792b) reports that South Korea is joining China and Pakistan in rewarding researchers with cash for publications in élite journals. Presumably the higher the journal's impact factor, the more valuable the reward.

The impact factor may be a good indicator of the quality of a journal, but it is misleading to judge an individual publication by the name of the journal in which it appeared. A journal's impact factor, as defined by the ISI, is the average number of citations per article the journal received during a given period. Isn't the number of citations a paper receives a better, more direct measure than the average of papers in the same journal?

A journal is good because it contains many high-impact papers, but not all papers in that journal necessarily have high impact. Papers that are published in low-profile journals but receive an equally high number of citations should not only be rewarded, but be rewarded more. In judging an individual publication, what counts should be its real merits, not its batch label.