Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Pitfalls of artificial grouping and stratification of scientific journals based on their Impact Factor: a case study in Brazilian Zoology

A. Machado, FábioZaher, Hussam

The present contribution explores the impact of the QUALIS metric system for academic evaluation implemented by CAPES (Coordination for the Development of Personnel in Higher Education) upon Brazilian Zoological research. The QUALIS system is based on the grouping and ranking of scientific journals according to their Impact Factor (IF). We examined two main points implied by this system, namely: 1) its reliability as a guideline for authors; 2) if Zoology possesses the same publication profile as Botany and Oceanography, three fields of knowledge grouped by CAPES under the subarea "BOZ" for purposes of evaluation. Additionally, we tested CAPES' recent suggestion that the area of Ecology would represent a fourth field of research compatible with the former three. Our results indicate that this system of classification is inappropriate as a guideline for publication improvement, with approximately one third of the journals changing their strata between years. We also demonstrate that the citation profile of Zoology is distinct from those of Botany and Oceanography. Finally, we show that Ecology shows an IF that is significantly different from those of Botany, Oceanography, and Zoology, and that grouping these fields together would be particularly detrimental to Zoology. We conclude that the use of only one parameter of analysis for the stratification of journals, i.e., the Impact Factor calculated for a comparatively small number of journals, fails to evaluate with accuracy the pattern of publication present in Zoology, Botany, and Oceanography. While such simplified procedure might appeals to our sense of objectivity, it dismisses any real attempt to evaluate with clarity the merit embedded in at least three very distinct aspects of scientific practice, namely: productivity, quality, and specificity.

Texto completo