A Critique of the Impact Factor and Ramifications of Its Misuse in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: The Real Impact of the Impact Factor

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Summary:The impact factor is used to compare the number of citations of a journal with its number of publications. Although first used to assess the significance of various journals, its very creator has stated that it is an imperfect system. Presently, the impact factor overvalues the importance of large-readership journals and undervalues that of smaller more specialized journals. Although no metric can serve as a perfect assessment of a journal’s worth, it is vital when selecting journals for publication, resource allocation, funding, or citation to weigh not only the impact factor of a large-volume journal, but also the added value of lower impact factor but also effective specialized subspecialty journals.

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