Jun 152007

The UK Serials Group has now published the final report on the feasibility study into developing and implementing journal Usage Factors (UFs).

The summary says that “based on these results it appears that it would not only be feasible to develop a meaningful journal Usage Factor, but that there is broad support for its implementation.” Some of the key findings:

  • the majority of publishers are supportive of the UF concept, appear to be willing, in principle to participate in the calculation and publication of UFs, and are prepared to see their journals ranked according to UF
  • there is not a significant difference between authors in different areas of academic research on the validity of journal Impact Factors as a measure of quality
  • UF, were it available, would be a highly ranked factor by librarians, not only in the evaluation of journals for potential purchase, but also in the evaluation of journals for retention or cancellation

The idea for a Usage Factor derives partly from dissatisfaction with the Impact Factor as a measure of the quality or usefulness of a journal. It’s not without its critics, for instance this posting by Springer’s Director of Open Access Jan Velterop:

… as a measurement of value? It’s an unholy idea, potentially compounding the misery of improper use of the impact factor.

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