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Journal- or article-based citation measure? A study of academic promotion at a Swiss university

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Steck Nicole, Stalder Lukas, Egger Matthias,
Project Forschungspauschale Forschungsratspräsident SNF
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal F1000Research
Volume (Issue) 9
Page(s) 1188
Title of proceedings F1000Research
DOI 10.12688/f1000research.26579.1

Open Access

URL http://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research
Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)

Abstract

In academia, decisions on promotions are influenced by the citation impact of the works published by the candidates. The Medical Faculty of the University of Bern used a measure based on the journal impact factor (JIF) for this purpose: the JIF of the papers submitted for promotion should rank in the upper third of journals in the relevant discipline (JIF rank >0.66). The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) aims to eliminate the use of journal-based metrics in academic promotion. We examined whether the JIF rank could be replaced with the relative citation ratio (RCR), an article-level measure of citation impact developed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). An RCR percentile >0.66 corresponds to the upper third of citation impact of articles from NIH-sponsored research. We examined 1525 publications submitted by 64 candidates for academic promotion at University of Bern. There was only a moderate correlation between the JIF rank and RCR percentile (Pearson correlation coefficient 0.34, 95% CI 0.29-0.38). Among the 1,199 articles (78.6%) published in journals ranking >0.66 for the JIF, less than half (509, 42.5%) were in the upper third of the RCR percentile. Conversely, among the 326 articles published in journals ranking <0.66 regarding the JIF, 72 (22.1%) ranked in the upper third of the RCR percentile. Our study demonstrates that the rank of the JIF is a bad proxy measure for the actual citation impact of individual articles. The Medical Faculty of University of Bern has signed DORA and replaced the JIF rank with the RCR percentile to assess the citation impact of papers submitted for academic promotion.
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