The San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) intends to halt the practice of correlating the journal impact factor to the merits of a specific scientist's contributions. Also according to this statement, this practice creates biases and inaccuracies when appraising scientific research. It also states that the impact factor is not to be used as a substitute "measure of the quality of individual research articles, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions".
The declaration originated from the December 2012 meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology. On May 13, 2013, more than 150 scientists and 75 scientific organizations had signed the declaration. The American Society for Cell Biology states that, as of 10 May 2013 , there are more than 6,000 individual signatories to the declaration and that the number of scientific organizations "signing on has gone from 78 to 231" within two weeks. As of 4 February 2017, the number of individual signatories has risen to over 12,000 and the number of scientific organizations to 851. Some organization signatories in 2017 include the British Library, Nature Research, BioMed Central, Springer Open and Cancer Research UK.
On 16 December 2012, a group of editors and publishers of academic journals gathered at the Annual Meeting of The American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco to discuss current issues related to how the quality of research output is evaluated and how the primary scientific literature is cited.
The motivation behind the meeting was the consensus that impact factors for many cell biology journals do not accurately reflect the value to the cell biology community of the work published in these journals. The group therefore wanted to discuss how to better align measures of journal and article impact with journal quality.
All the above considerations also extend to other fields and the organizers consider DORA a worldwide initiative covering all scholarly disciplines. In fact, the declaration has been signed by scientific associations with general scope, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science or the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, by more specialized associations working in fields quite removed from biology, such as the European Mathematical Society, the Geological Society of London or the Linguistic Society of America, by some universities and other general institutions such as the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
There is also an alarming trend for the citation of review articles over primary literature, driven in part by space limitations that are imposed by some journals. Because this citation bias contributes to lower citation indices for journals that focus mainly on primary literature, the group discussed ways to combat this trend as well.
The outcome of the meeting and further discussions was a set of recommendations that is referred to as the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, published in May 2013.
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