Friday, 21 March 2014

Rating scientific articles: why and how?

Assuming we need to assess the quality of individual scientific articles, there are two broad approaches:
  • the quantitative approach of counting citations and/or computing alternative metrics,
  • the qualitative approach of conducting peer review, and giving quality tokens to articles. A quality token can be publication in a journal, or a grade.
The quantitative approach has the fundamental flaw of being an indirect way of assessing quality. And it has undesirable side effects, such as the misuse of citations for assigning credit, rather than for helping readers. In this post I will deal with the qualitative approach.

Giving grades, implicit or explicit.

Assuming some form of peer review is conducted, how can the results be concisely summarized?