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A Gender-Biased Metric Guides Funding Decisions in Psychology Research

How do psychologists gauge scientific impact? One way is the so-called “journal impact factor,” or JIF, a ranking of a journal derived from the number of citations by other authors to all of the articles it has published in a given year. But JIF isn’t just a statistical abstraction. “JIFs are increasingly used to assess and predict the merits of academic work,” which leads to decisions about hiring, promotion, and the allocation of scarce resources to researchers, says University of Surrey psychologist Peter Hegarty. Needless to say, such a consequential measure must be as fair as possible. But JIF isn’t, say Hegarty and Surrey colleague Zoe Walton in a new article in Perspectives on Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science. “Using JIF underestimates the impact of women researchers relative to men and the social science area relative to the natural science areas of psychology,” says Hegarty. For these reasons, the authors recommend administrators employ JIF “with caution.”... More>