Tracey DePellegrin is Executive Director of the Genetics Society of America and Executive Editor of GENETICS and G3. Follow her on Twitter @editor_traceyd.
Traces in the sand. Image credit: fdecomite [CC-by-2.0]

This month, the GSA journal GENETICS published an editorial that illuminates the struggles experienced by scientists when trying to both do good science and advance in their career, especially as it relates to the unintended effects of the Journal Impact Factor (JIF).

The editorial by Executive Editor Tracey DePellegrin and Editor-in-Chief Mark Johnston is largely intended to bring to life the human impact of the JIF by discussing its warped effects on the behavior and focus of early career scientists they met this year.

The authors wish to emphasize that those students said they had wanted to send their work to GENETICS, but couldn’t do it until summer 2015, when the journal’s JIF happened to cross over some seemingly magical threshold. Their story illustrates how the JIF perversely affects science and the ways the scientists we met are forced to contort themselves and their choices for communicating their research simply because of a metric they agreed was irrelevant to assessing the quality of a journal.

We want to hear about your experiences and observations. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below – we’d like each of you to get involved in a discussion here at G2G.



DePellegrin, T.A., and M. Johnston. 2015. An Arbitrary Line in the Sand: Rising Scientists Confront the Impact Factor. GENETICS, 201(3): 811-813. doi:10.1534/genetics.115.182261

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  1. Jasper Rine says:

    This is a beautifully written description of a problem that is a blight on biomedical research. Another tragic dimension of JIF obsession is the time lost to the young scientists, who do most of the bench work, as they are forced to chase insignificant ephemera, or add another year’s worth of data, to placate silly demands of editors who never developed adequate judgment. Fortunately, WE have the power to solve this problem in short order. But the solution requires all of our efforts.

  2. sb says:

    I read articles based on topics of interest first and determine their merit and impact for the field for myself rather than selecting which ones to consider good based on impact factor. I would publish in any journal that publishes other solid papers. But thats not necessarily going to get me a grant so i have to think bigger stories for bigger impact. Which takes longer more experiments that make the story more complicated and much more stress.

  3. John Schimenti says:

    Great piece you two. GENETICS has always been a top tier journal in my opinion.

  4. Eustice says:

    Basically, if you can’t get published in one of the big three, you have no future in science. But what do these magazines publish? The moat sexy, expensive or outlandish research. It is nothing but the “good old boy” priveledge all over again.