Policy: Appropriate Use of Bibliometrics

Multiple complementary bibliometric indicators provide a more balanced view of a publication.

IEEE recognizes the increasing importance of bibliometric indicators as independent measures of quality or impact of any scientific publication and therefore explicitly and firmly condemns any practice aimed at influencing the number of citations to a specific journal with the sole purpose of artificially influencing the corresponding indices.

Appropriate use of bibliometrics

IEEE recognizes the recent concerns expressed by the scientific community about the inappropriate application of bibliometrics to the evaluation of both scientists and research proposals. More specifically, IEEE endorses the following tenets in conducting proper assessment in the areas of engineering, computer science, and information technology:

  1. The use of multiple complementary bibliometric indicators is fundamentally important to offer an appropriate, comprehensive, and balanced view of each journal in the space of scholarly publications. IEEE has recently adopted the Eigenfactor and the Article Influence in addition to the Impact Factor for the internal and competitive assessment of its publications and welcomes the adoption of other appropriate complementary measures at the article level, such as those recently introduced in the framework of the so-called altmetrics, once they have been appropriately validated and recognized by the scientific community.
  2. Any journal-based metric is not designed to capture qualities of individual papers, and must therefore not be used as a proxy for single-article quality or to evaluate individual scientists. All journals’ bibliometric indices are obtained by averaging over many papers, and it cannot be assumed that every single article published in a high-impact journal, as determined by any particular journal metric, will be highly cited.
  3. While bibliometrics may be employed as a source of additional information for quality assessment within a specific area of research, the primary manner for assessment of either the scientific quality of a research project or of an individual scientist should be peer review, which will consider the scientific content as the most important aspect in addition to the publication expectations in the area, as well as the size and practice of the research community.

Read the full IEEE statement (PDF, 115 KB) on the appropriate use of bibliometric indicators, as adopted by the IEEE Board of Directors in September 2013.