How to select junior (or other) researchers, and why not to use Impact Factors

[ UPDATE: a commentary based on this blog post has now been published in the Journal of Informetrics at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1751157717302365 ]

Recently a preprint was posted at ArXiv to explore the question “Can the Journal Impact Factor Be Used as a Criterion for the Selection of Junior Researchers?“. The abstract concludes as follows:

The results of the study indicate that the JIF (in its normalized variant) is able to discriminate between researchers who published papers later on with a citation impact above or below average in a field and publication year – not only in the short term, but also in the long term. However, the low to medium effect sizes of the results also indicate that the JIF (in its normalized variant) should not be used as the sole criterion for identifying later success: other criteria, such as the novelty and significance of the specific research, academic distinctions, and the reputation of previous institutions, should also be considered.

In this post, I aim to explain why this is wrong (and more, how following this recommendation may retard scientific progress) and I have a go at establishing a common sense framework for researcher selection that might work.

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