Do You Know Your H-Index?

The h-index or Hirsch index is a metric that aims to measure the impact of an individual researcher on his/her field.  It can be thought of as a personal impact factor.  Developed by the physicist Jorge Hirsch in 2005, the h-index assesses both the quantity and quality of a researcher’s papers.  It is based on the highest number of a researcher’s papers that have received at least that same number of citations.  For example, an h-index of 30 means the researcher has published 30 papers that have been cited at least 30 times each.

The advantages of the h-index are that it is objective, measures the cumulative impact of a researcher’s work over his/her career and corrects for “one-hit wonders”.  However, it is not as effective for younger researchers because their papers have not had time to accumulate citations.  It has trouble distributing credit on papers with multiple co-authors and does not factor in the impact of very highly cited papers.  Unlike the stock market an h-index cannot decline even if a researcher is no longer productive.  H-indexes should only be used to compare researchers in the same discipline.  Researchers in certain disciplines publish less than others and papers in highly specialized fields will not be cited as frequently.

Miner librarians can provide a personal citation report for your journal articles using the Web of Science database.  It will include your h-index, total citations for each article, and the number of citations your articles receive each year.  We can also show you how to create your own citation report.  Contact the Miner Reference Desk (275-2487, miner_information@urmc.rochester.edu) or your library liaison to learn more.

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