I want to highlight the editorial in the list of articles I just sent to the list. It is entitled: Impact Factor: Friend or Foe?
This article raises a Very Important Issue for the lab community in general and the lab safety community in particular for at least three reasons:
1. The editorial describes the connection between individual professional advancement and the prejudices of the publication process. In observing the lab community over the years, I have seen many situations where professional advancement considerations hinder both professional development of the individual and organizational development of a research group to be more effective scientists. This may be one reason that more and more research is moving out of the academic environment. See the C&EN article on
A sizzling biotech job market is streamlining the course to a career in chemistry
As PhDs leave postdocs early for industry, researchers are considering the future of their postdoc programs at
2. The publication process‰??s preference for novel results means 1) work related to safety aspects of lab work is not included in many papers and 2) the work of verifying the lab procedures and results is seldom considered publishable. This means, for example, if a chemical process explodes because the order of two steps in the procedure are reversed from the original procedure, this information is not shared in peer reviewed journals, where the information is much more discoverable than in more informal settings.
3. This prejudice means that the time required to develop practical Lessons Learned, including those from safety incidents, is not invested by the lab community, which is driven to get the publishable science back on track, rather than to understand what the incident is trying to tell us about the science being conducted.
The reason I wanted to highlight these thoughts is that someone glancing at the title might this the question being debated is whether the Impact Factor is the "Friend or Foe" of a particular journal. I think the points made in the article show that the Impact Factor is a "Friend or Foe" of the scientific enterprise as a whole, both for its credibility and its safety.
The editorial can be found at https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.chas.1c00081
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Health and Safety
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