Friday, July 26, 2019
American Association for the Advancement of Science, Hyphens in Paper Titles Harm Citation Counts and Journal Impact Factors:
According to the latest research results, the presence of simple hyphens in the titles of academic papers adversely affects the citation statistics, regardless of the quality of the articles. The phenomenon applies to all major subject areas. Thus, citation counts and journal impact factors, commonly used for professorial evaluations in universities worldwide, are unreliable.
This breakthrough finding poses a fundamental challenge to the rule of the game in determining the contributions of papers, journals, and professors. It is unveiled in a paper titled Metamorphic Robustness Testing: Exposing Hidden Defects in Citation Statistics and Journal Impact Factors by Zhi Quan Zhou, T.H. Tse, and Matt Witheridge, recently published in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, the top journal in the field. ...
Citation practices vary across subject areas. Publications in certain fields may have systematically higher citation counts than in other fields. For example, one may argue that papers in chemistry (where paper titles often carry hyphens as part of the chemical nomenclature) only receive relatively limited numbers of citations, giving rise to a spurious negative correlation between hyphens and citations. Hence, the team carried out focused studies on journals in specific subject areas. The results indicated that hyphens adversely affect the citation counts of papers even if the study is only limited to some particular discipline.
To build on the findings at the article and discipline levels, the team investigated the impact of hyphens in paper titles at the journal level. Journal impact factor (JIF) is a common metric for determining the citation frequency of an academic journal. It is frequently used to represent the relative importance of a journal within its field. A software engineering field-wide study reveals that the higher JIF-ranked journals are publishing a lower percentage of papers with hyphenated titles.