Supporting balanced and fair research assessment

Taylor & Francis signs the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

This week we announced that Taylor & Francis has signed up to the principles outlined in DORA, which aims to improve the ways in which researchers and the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated.Signatory of DORA badge

This follows a period of consultation with our publishing partners and internal review, to identify the technology, process, and culture changes we needed to make so that we were ready to sign the Declaration. We’re very grateful to everyone who has already provided support and feedback, especially with the recent addition of an enhanced range of journal metrics on Taylor & Francis Online.

Taylor & Francis has long been involved in activities to improve research assessment and we now meet most of the recommendations set out in DORA. For example, Taylor & Francis Online has displayed article-level metrics such as downloads and citations for many years, and Altmetric Attention Scores have been available on the site since 2015.

Building on this record

Signing DORA also indicates a direction of travel: we will build on this foundation to ensure that we follow best practice in all our areas of work. This will include the way we use journal metrics, like the Impact Factor, in our marketing activities. When we’re using metrics to talk about the qualities of a journal with prospective authors or subscribers, we will always aim to present several relevant metrics together, to provide a richer view of journal performance. Front and center of our messaging has to be the point that metrics at most support, but certainly do not replace, qualitative review.

We also value the support of our editors and society partners in helping us maintain these standards. For example, we will be grateful to you for understanding why we will no longer make announcements about a journal’s performance when the new Impact Factors are released by Clarivate Analytics each June. While we will continue to use the Impact Factor in context when it is useful, ceasing annual posts about IF increases will help us meet the DORA requirement to “greatly reduce emphasis on the journal Impact Factor as a promotional tool”.

Quality and impact beyond metrics

Although they are useful tools, every journal metric has its limitations, many of which we have outlined in our new guidance for authors. And so, by reducing emphasis on these metrics, we hope also to encourage researchers to give more attention to qualitative factors when choosing which journal to submit to, such as the content a journal has previously published and its aims & scope. This should help researchers better identify the most appropriate home for their research first time around, reducing the number of papers that are submitted to unsuitable journals.

Using journal metrics in context, and only ever as a guide to journal performance, helps ensure that the quality of each individual research article is assessed on its own merits, rather than on the metrics of the journal in which it was published. In turn, we hope to contribute to more sophisticated and meaningful approaches to evaluating the work we publish, which also recognize the life-improving impact research has beyond the academy.

Further reading

March 5, 2021

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