Everyone loves to hate citation metrics, but EMBO reports ( 10,1067; 2009) perhaps goes further than most in Howy Jacobs’s October editorial vision of where it all may lead, which starts:
Unalaska, 2045. The announcement by the government of the Pacific Union that it will start to tax academic scientists according to their Impact Factor (IF) points has unleashed a storm of controversy. As the field that has traditionally, and for more than half a century, led the citation ratings, molecular biologists consider themselves to be at the forefront of this battle against such a blatant attack on academic freedom.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, a trend began to emerge, initially in the former USA, where scientists were expected to raise a substantial proportion—eventually the entirety—of their salary from competitive research grants. In return, academic institutions freed their professors from the formal responsibility to teach, while recouping enormous financial benefits in the form of what were then called ‘overheads’. In the first decades of the present century, scientists and their personal financial advisors began to realize that this system made them, in effect, self-employed managers of small businesses.