Since I posted my last ramblings on metrics, I went to the European Association of Geoscientists and Engineers (EAGE) conference in London. I was presenting a talk in a session titled 'Best of Geolsoc'. The session comprised a bunch of talks that had been presented at a Geological Society of London conference earlier in the year: the Geolsoc had asked us to reprise the meeting at the EAGE.
There was some discussion about possible publications that might arise from the meeting. The Geolsoc was interested in putting out a special publication, but most people were more interested in putting out a thematic set of papers in the Journal of the Geological Society. Why? Because a Geolsoc special publication is a book, it doesn't have an impact factor, and, at least in the eyes of academics working at British institutions, it doesn't count.
This, surely, is just plain nuts. The Geolsoc special publications are among the most respected publications in the earth sciences. They are widely read, highly cited, and in general contain benchmark papers presenting solid and interesting science. That otherwise sensible people should be wary of publishing in them on the basis of metrics is a clear indication that we're following the wrong approach. As I said previously, there is enough material on this subject for people to understand the problems if they want to. Indeed, it was clear that many at the meeting recognised the problems of bad metrics being used to evaluate individuals. If we all know it's bollocks, why do we put up with it?