And do we want to? Maybe it could help formally include non-publishing activities in a scientist’s evaluation?
When I first read this PLoS Computational Biology article, “I Am Not a Scientist, I Am a Number“, I was ready to beat down on its ass. After all, how seriously can you take something like this which describes a “Scholar Factor”:
I’m surprised there’s no arcsine transformation in there (I said I wouldn’t beat the crap out of it, not give it hugs and kisses). By way of further explanation (if you really want it):
H Factor is as it is now–the number of papers cited more than H times–thus, an H factor of 20 indicates that an author has 20 papers cited more than 20 times….
Grant/Manuscript Review Factor is the accumulative number of authenticated… grant and paper reviews you have done (data provided to the grant funding agencies and journals)….
Annotations/Software/Datasets Factor is the accumulative number of authenticated entries you have made in a public database, for example, microarray datasets, gene sequences, macromolecular structures, or software entries you have added to an open access archive. If n scientists were involved in making the entry, you get 1/n of an entry; 5 entries increase your SF by 1….
Web Factor is the number of authenticated blog posts, wiki postings, etc., you make that show x or more links to them (a measure of their value), where x is to be determined; 50 entries increases your SF by 1.
I still get the strong feeling that more personal away time for the authors would be a good idea. Nonetheless, even though the parameterization leaves a lot to be desired, there is the germ of a good idea here. Essentially, a lot of these ‘other’ activities (i.e., not published papers) would formally receive credit–which could greatly help academics for tenure, as well as aid non-academic scientists.