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University Abandons Impact Factor in Hiring and Promotion Decisions

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Utrecht University in the Netherlands is formally abandoning the impact factor — a standard measure of scientific success — in all hiring and promotion decisions. By early 2022, every department at the university will judge its scholars by other standards, including their commitment to teamwork and their efforts to promote open science.

"Impact factors don't really reflect the quality of an individual researcher or academic," says Paul Boselie, project leader for the university's new Recognition and Rewards scheme. "We have a strong belief that something has to change, and abandoning the impact factor is one of those changes."

Boselie says that impact factors — as well as a related measure called the h-index — contribute to a 'product-ification' of science. "It has become a very sick model that goes beyond what is really relevant for science and putting science forward," he says.

The new scheme is part of Utrecht's multi-track effort to make research more transparent and cooperative. Open-science fellows embedded within each department will assess progress towards open-access publishing, public engagement, and data sharing.

Dissatisfaction with use and misuse of the impact factor in evaluations and tenure, promotion, and hiring decisions has grown in recent years. "There are alternative ways to evaluate individuals on their quality," Boselie says.

From Nature
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