I was tidying up the other day and came across an email from Caroline Finch with a link to a paper I had neglected. The paper “The Association between Four Citation Metrics and Peer Rankings of Research Influence of Australian Researchers in Six Fields of Public Health” was published in an open access journal.
The results are important for academics working in injury prevention who work in institutions that look carefully at publications and impact factors when considering promotion, etc. The study tested the hypothesis that there would be a strong association between peer judgments about who were the influential researchers in their topic area (‘influential researcher votes’ or IRVs) and various citation metrics representing different aspects of research output in 6 fields of public health in Australia. The results showed that for 4 fields there was “a modest positive correlation” but 2 fields, tobacco and injury, negative or no correlations were found. The authors concluded that this “suggests a peer understanding of research influence within these fields differed from visibility in the mainstream, peer-reviewed scientific literature.” Accordingly, they recommend the use of both peer review and metrics in a combined approach in assessing research influence. I urge colleagues who are in academia, especially those in universities that remain wedded to the IF, to read this fascinating paper.