I came across something troubling today in the supplementary information that accompanied a paper I was going over. Now I have a lot of misgivings about the whole concept of supplementary data, yet I hadn't realized this one until now.
That is, in the Thomson ISI database, citations made in supplementary data are not counted in the "Times Cited" count. That's worrying to me, because one of the most prevalent ways for people who are not experts in a given field (or subfield, or subsubfield...) to assess the influence of a scientist or paper is to use the number of citations the paper garners. For example, these citation counts are used to create the impact factor to rank journals (and at times erroneously to rank individual papers), and the Hirsch, or h-, index used to evaluate scientist output.
Meaning, if these citations are not included in ISI, then for all intents and purposes they do not exist.
So now, not only can supplementary info be used as a dumping ground for your inconclusive or crappy data, but you can also stick references to your competitors in there and shaft them their citations.
But hey, at least you've got your plausible deniability!
Anyone else troubled by this? Anyone else have opinions on supplementary data?