The Impact Factor debate goes critical….

Nobelist Randy Shekman will boycott of Cell, Nature and Science, story here.  Money quote from the article in The Guardian:

Schekman said pressure to publish in “luxury” journals encouraged researchers to cut corners and pursue trendy fields of science instead of doing more important work. The problem was exacerbated, he said, by editors who were not active scientists but professionals who favoured studies that were likely to make a splash.

Are we at a tipping point? Potentially so, particularly with regards to the use of Impact Factor as a metric in assessing quality of scientific publications. Further quoting:

A journal’s impact factor is a measure of how often its papers are cited, and is used as a proxy for quality. But Schekman said it was “toxic influence” on science that “introduced a distortion”. He writes: “A paper can become highly cited because it is good science – or because it is eye-catching, provocative, or wrong.”

The passing of a giant…

Rita Levi-Montalcini has died. Her NYT obit is here. She was a neuroscientist Nobel laureate whose discovery of Nerve Growth Factor helped shape the way we think about wiring up the nervous system during development. I had the honor of hearing her speak at the 1981 Society for Neuroscience meeting in Los Angeles–we graduate students were packed into the nose-bleed seats of the giant auditorium, but we hung on every word…

She will be missed.