For many readers, therefore, this article might be a wake-up call; if so, keep in mind that your colleagues elsewhere and in other disciplines might already have severe cases.
Moreover, most physicists I talk to have at least a mild form of the disease. Suppose you want the 2013 IF for : Take all the papers published in PRL in 20; the standard (two-year) 2013 IF is the average number of citations accumulated by these papers in 2013, in a list of "indexed journals" maintained by Thomson Reuters.
Publications in HIF journals are then weighted more heavily than other papers because these papers have more potential for substantial impact, as measured, for example, by future citations.
HIF thus emerges as a mildly informative tool for assessment of departments and larger entities, although those in charge of these assessments often misread "mildly informative" as "wildly informative." With HIF accepted as an objective component of unit-wide assessments, it is only a short step to applying it to individuals.
Its Web of Science indexes over 8,000 science and technology journals and issues an annual report, called the Journal Citation Reports (JCR), which lists IFs and other measures of journal impact.
In particular, you will also see five-year IFs, which are computed using a time horizon of five years instead of the two years for standard IF.
The number of published papers seems an obvious objective metric, but not all papers are created equal.
Citations might be brought in to measure the impact of a paper, but since these assessments are meant to be snapshots, the citation record is generally too recent to be very informative.
But, being a physicist, you know next to nothing about evaluating pitching skill, so to make your life easier, you fix on a single figure of merit, the pitcher’s heat (fastball speed).
Although you have access to each applicant’s fastball speed, you elect to rank the candidates in terms of the average speed of all the pitchers on an applicant’s current minor-league team.