I believe that ‘high impact journals’ have as much impact as you’d like them to have. Much like donald trump (let’s not capitalise that), or beetlejuice, the importance of these figures is based upon airtime and only in a certain context. If I am to tell my neighbour (or even my first-year of uni past self) that I’ve just published in Nature, I’d likely be misinterpreted as some sort of nudist. I have personally cited zero nature papers in my work thusfar, thesis and all. This means that the true impact of the journal is based upon a choice by researchers to send high impact/quality/novelty work to these journals, and accept research seen in these journals as such. Of course, one must try to avoid the ‘I wouldn’t’, or ‘If I was in that situation’ notions, as these are paths paved with pitfalls (penguin). If we question why researchers are drawn to the bright lights of Nature, we come across somewhat repetitive themes. One might question the sanity of a researcher who commits their discoveries to Human Molecular Genetics at impact factor 6.3 when Nature Neuroscience sits aloft at 16.1. This is with the knowledge that the greater impact is that upon the PI sifting through your postdoctoral application CV for the bright glimpse of the N word.
Perhaps the onus is on us to break this paradigm. Perhaps we should send our papers to the journals in which they belong, where they may be spotted by researchers who are actually involved in such areas. One might try to forget that in this world of likes, like-ratios, hashtags and fitbit personal trackers, the worth of work/data/effort/beauty is not measured by these means. The difficulty lies in how we do measure it. I’d like to believe that the worth of your work is shown more robustly by its citations. I’ll try not to get into the cyclical argument of the higher number of citations elicited by a Nature publication. Let’s just not read those papers? After all, when did you last actually cite one? Let’s shed the inflated worth of high impact journals, forget the importance of having a career beyond the PhD and work on producing data for the excitement of advancing human knowledge. Maybe somewhere along the way we find that we were actually meant to be doing and enjoying it for that reason all along.