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San Francisco Signing

The Society has signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment, writes Angharad Hills*.

The Impact Factor was devised as a way to assist librarians with journal purchasing choices, but it has been widely misused as a measure of the quality of individual articles submitted to a journal - and even for assessment of researchers. The Society is not the only organisation concerned about the inappropriate use of IF, and in 2012 a group of editors and publishers of scholarly journals met to address this issue. The outcome was the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA)

Society President, Prof. David Manning, has now signed the declaration on behalf of GSL. We now include other metrics alongside IF on our website, and will take further steps to address the other recommendations for publishers as resources allow.


Many UK academics believe that they cannot include articles from GSL Special Publications in their REF submissions because they do not have an Impact Factor. That is not the case – HEFCE was one of the original signatories of DORA. They will use data from the Scopus citation database, and SPs have been included in Scopus for some time.

However, many departmental heads still insist that their staff can only include articles published in high IF journals in REF submissions. The Society believes this to be a mistaken approach – it is the quality of individual articles, and the research that underlies them, that matters - and that is the main message of the DORA.


I urge you to sign DORA, to discuss it with colleagues - especially those responsible for overseeing research assessments in your organisation - and to encourage your institution to sign too.

* GSL Commissioning Editor

Further information

More information on Impact Factors and other metrics:

Articles about Impact Factors: