How to create the most impact with your journal article
Much has been written about impact factors in the past, so I am not going to reinvent the wheel here. Yes, we know there are problems with using impact factors to assess the standard of an academic's work. But, for now, it seems that this is one of the main metrics that your boss and your grant assessor is going to look at when determining how "good" an academic you are.
However, let's not forget the real reason that most of us ever got into academia in the first place: to make a difference. To change the world. To improve technology. To save lives. To reduce pollution. To expand minds.
And how best can we do that? By publishing in a top journal? Or... by making your work Open Access?
For sure, having most of your articles published in Science or Nature will look great to prospective employers. But will this create the most amount of change?
As a researcher who used to be an academic but now writes about science in the public domain, if there was one thing I could ask of academics, it would be to try as much as possible to make your work Open Access. This is so the rest of the world can read about your brilliant work and even allow journalists to highlight it in the media for the general public to hear about.
You never know, an article in the front page of The Times might have far more real-life impact than an article published in a high-impact factor journal.
(Oh and if you are an academic and have a neat journal article coming out soon and you want me to write about it, please do send me an advanced copy of it so I can pitch it to my editors!)