C&EN Onion European Chemical Sciences Correspondent Fluorogrol Reports
Thieves made off with a large quantity of impact factor in a carefully orchestrated raid on a Thomson–Reuters facility, just days before this year's consignment of the controlled substance was due to be distributed to academic journals around the world.
Despite its low-key appearance – an anonymous warehouse on the outskirts of Nottingham, UK – entry to the building known as the Impact Factory is tightly controlled. The heavily armed gang smuggled themselves into the facility in a shipping container stuffed with unprocessed citations. Once inside, they forcibly looted the impact factor vault before escaping, according to a police source, "in the usual manner: zipline across the river and then fleeing by dogsled across the fields to a waiting hovercraft."
Responding to anxious scientific publishers' demands to know precisely how much impact factor was missing, Thomson–Reuters stated: "It would be absurd to attempt to put a precise figure on what is at best a slippery approximation. However, we estimate that impact factor totalling 7318.031 has been taken." The stolen impact factor, corresponding to approximately 17 deca-Natures, will likely be broken up and sold piecemeal to predatory journals or adulterated with cutting agents such as baking soda, amphetamines and Altmetrics before being sold on the street.
Handling guidelines for impact factor, an intractable brown tar described as toxic and corrosive, recommend storage in a well-sealed container and the avoidance of all contact with science. Despite this, it has been known as a drug of abuse for many years under the street names "JIF" and "Garfield's thunder." Most impact factor addicts are relatively high-functioning and able to maintain senior positions in research, publishing, and on tenure and funding committees. Medical professionals urge users to protect themselves from the worst effects by taking their impact factor with a pinch of salt.