ANALYSIS OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE IMPACT FACTOR AND THE QUALITY EVALUATED BY EXPERTS.

I International Conference on Multidisciplinary Information Sciences and Technologies, InSciT2006.
Mérida October 25-28th 2006
Gualberto Buela-Casal and Izabela Zych*
University of Granada
Introduction

The present study is an analysis of the number of the citations of the articles selected by the experts as the best psychology papers published throughout the previous year in journals of the Spanish Psychological Association to be republished in Psychology in Spain.
Although the impact factor is the most popular measure, not always the most cited articles are the best. As a result it is necessary to compare it with the quantitative measures as for example the peer review to obtain the most complete information. Many investigations conducted in practically all the fields of knowledge utilize the impact factor as a measure of the publications value. The number of the citations has gained such importance that it is used to evaluate the professional career of the investigators or even to make a decision about increasing a salary or an advancement etc. Regardless of the great importance of the subject, the studies on the degree to which the impact factor reflects the quality are scarce, at least in psychology field.

Method
The articles published in the journals of the Spanish Psychological Association between 1996 and 2004 and selected by the Editorial Board of Psychology in Spain were the subject of the study. Psychology in Spain is a journal which includes the best papers published throughout the previous year chosen by the ¨Editorial Board made up of fifty specialists of acknowledged prestige within Spanish psychology¨ and translated into English. The number of the citations of the original articles republished in Psychology in Spain was compared with the number of the citations of the randomly selected articles from the same issue of the same journal and of the same type, theoretical or empirical. Altogether, the number of the citations of 107 articles republished in Psychology in Spain was compared with the number of the
citations of 107 randomly selected articles.

Results

The results show a strong relationship between the number of the citations and the results of the experts review. The mean number of the citations of 107 articles selected by the editorial board of Psychology in Spain is 2.28 compared with the 0.97 of the identical articles (type, journal, year and number) which have not been selected.

Discussion

The comparison of the number of citations of the articles selected by the experts as the best ones with the number of citations of the “peer articles” which have not been selected reveals that both measures produce the same results. In other words, the articles which according to the experts are the best are also more cited in comparison with the number of the citations of the articles which have not been selected. The results provide a support for the impact factor as a trustworthy measure of the quality.