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Meta-Research: Use of the Journal Impact Factor in academic review, promotion, and tenure evaluations

When issues associated with the current academic evaluation systems are discussed, the use – and potential misuse – of the JIF is often stressed and discussed. However, the extent to which the JIF is actually used to evaluate faculty is unknown and quantitative analyses are missing.
In this study, the authors analysed 864 documents related to the review, promotion, and tenure (RPT) process of 129 universities and asked the following questions: How often is the JIF mentioned in RPT documents? Are the JIF mentions supportive or cautionary? What do RPT documents assume the JIF measures?
Of the institutions that mentioned the JIF, 87% supported its use, 13% expressed caution about its use, but none heavily criticized it or prohibited its use. Furthermore, 63% of institutions that mentioned the JIF associated the metric with quality, 40% with impact, importance, or significance, and 20% with prestige, reputation, or status.
The authors concluded that use of the JIF is encouraged in RPT evaluations, especially at research-intensive universities, and that there is some work to be done to avoid the potential misuse of metrics like the JIF.

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