B – Methods of assessing a scientific paper

Eyre-Walker A, Stoletzki N. The assessment of science: the relative merits of post-publication review, the impact factor, and the number of citations. PLoS Biology 2013;11(10):e1001675
(doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001675)

This article investigates three methods of assessing the merit of a scientific paper: subjective post-publication peer review, the impact factor of the journal in which the article was published, and the number of citations gained by a paper. According to the conclusions, the three measures of scientific merit considered are poor; in particular subjective assessments are an error-prone, biased, and expensive method by which to assess merit. The authors argue that the impact factor may be the most satisfactory of the methods considered, since it is a form of pre-publication review. However, it is likely to be a very error-prone measure of merit that is qualitative, not quantitative.