In a recent article Andrew J. Hoffmann, from the University of Michigan, argues that academia’s focus on publication in top-tier ‘A’ journals as a measure of success, for both an individual researcher and an institution as a whole, is “anti-intellectual” and can “limit creativity and diversity”. Hoffmann is worried that this focus is too restrictive; he challenges academia to consider broader outlets such as “a judicious use of B journals” and social media.
Hoffmann makes the case that publishing in ‘B’ journals could allow a publication to reach a wider audience, and that a researcher should aim for a mix of both ‘A’ and ‘B’ journals within their portfolio. However, this ideal scenario is difficult to realise if institutions do not recognise publications in journals that are not on their preferred list. However, Hoffmann also points out that activity on social media should not be ignored, as this direct debate with fellow peers can increase both creativity and impact. Social media is a convenient source of knowledge for the general public, policy makers and even academics. The numbers of people accessing information in this way may far exceed the number of citations a scientific paper receives and hence the impact of the research. This is reflected in the recent decision by The Mayo Clinic to include “social media scholarship activities” in academic advancement.