Measuring the impact of allied health research
Jan Heath, Karen Grimmer-Somers, Steve Milanese, Susan Hillier, Ellena King, Kylie Johnston, Kylie Wall, Olivia Thorpe, Alexandra Young, Saravana Kumar
School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Background: Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) rankings are given to academic journals in which Australian academics publish. This provides a metric on which Australian institutions and disciplines are ranked for international competitiveness. This paper explores the issues surrounding the ERA rankings of allied health journals in Australia.
Methods: We conducted a broad search to establish a representative list of general allied health and discipline-specific journals for common allied health disciplines. We identified the ERA rankings and impact factors for each journal and tested the congruence between these metrics within the disciplines.
Results: Few allied health journals have high ERA rankings (A*/A), and there is variability in the impact factors assigned to journals within the same ERA rank. There is a small group of allied health researchers worldwide, and this group is even smaller when divided by discipline. Current publication metrics may not adequately assess the impact of research, which is largely aimed at clinicians to improve clinical practice. Moreover, many journals are produced by underfunded professional associations, and readership is often constrained by small numbers of clinicians in specific allied health disciplines who are association members.
Conclusion: Allied health must have a stronger united voice in the next round of ERA rankings. The clinical impact of allied health journals also needs to be better understood and promoted as a research metric.
Keywords: allied health, research impact, publication metrics
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