Free-Riding on Power Laws: Questioning the Validity of the Impact Factor as a Measure of Research Quality in Organization Studies

Organization, Forthcoming

18 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2011

See all articles by Joel A. C. Baum

Joel A. C. Baum

University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management

Date Written: June 8, 2011

Abstract

The simplicity and apparent objectivity of the Institute for Scientific Information’s Impact Factor has resulted in its widespread use to assess the quality of organization studies journals and by extension the impact of the articles they publish and the achievements of their authors. After describing how such uses of the Impact Factor can distort both researcher and editorial behavior to the detriment of the field, I show how extreme variability in article citedness permits the vast majority of articles — and journals themselves — to free-ride on a small number of highly-cited articles. I conclude that the Impact Factor has little credibility as a proxy for the quality of either organization studies journals or the articles they publish, resulting in attributions of journal or article quality that are incorrect as much or more than half the time. The clear implication is that we need to cease our reliance on such a non-scientific, quantitative characterization to evaluate the quality of our work.

Keywords: Impact Factor

Suggested Citation

Baum, Joel A.C., Free-Riding on Power Laws: Questioning the Validity of the Impact Factor as a Measure of Research Quality in Organization Studies (June 8, 2011). Organization, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1860279

Joel A.C. Baum (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Joseph L. Rotman School of Management ( email )

University of Toronto
105 St. George Street
Toronto, ON, M5S 3E6
Canada
416-978-4914 (Phone)
416-978-4629 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.rotman.utoronto.ca/~baum

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
67
Abstract Views
1,066
rank
366,224
PlumX Metrics