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Maximum Impact?

March 17, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 11

The editorial “Unintended Impact” reminds us of the negatives that have been attributed by many eminent scientists over the past decade or more to the concept and (mis)use of impact factors (C&EN, Jan. 13, page 3). By now, I suspect that the vast majority of chemists would agree with the conclusions Maureen Rouhi reaches, that our discipline really should cease paying homage to the perception that impact factors provide highly relevant and useful criteria of research quality.

Many of us would disagree, however, with her conclusion that “impact factors are now so deeply entrenched” that nothing will “convince researchers to ignore them.” For instance, if publishers of the quality journals were to stop boasting of their scores, I do believe that others would also realize the pointlessness of worrying about journal impact factors.

Indeed, ACS might take a leadership role by ceasing the practice of quoting impact factors to as many as five significant figures on its journal masthead pages. ACS journals are of a stature that they do not need to indulge in such self-adulation; we all know they are tops.

Mike Baird
Kingston, Ontario

I found Rouhi’s editorial rather amusing. Why question the use of impact factors by a young chemical scientist when C&EN itself uses the measure and finds it commercially useful? Full-page ads in C&EN proudly highlight the big or maximum impact factors achieved by ACS journals.

Jan Hrbek
Salt Lake City


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