Monthly Archives: February 2010

Hirsch index

Recently people in our group have been calculating their H-indices. These indices can be used to assess the quality of your work, as it is an indication of how much you have been cited.

Using only the total number of articles written is not an adequate indication of quality, as it is possible that those articles were never cited (used) by others. Using the total number of citations can also give an incorrect view of quality, as perhaps it is only one article (for example a review article) that gets cited a lot, where the rest maybe never gets cited. Another solution would be to divide the total number of citations by the total number of articles, but then adding just one new article, which being new has not yet been cited, might reduce your index a lot.

The h-index is quite nice as it avoids all these pitfalls: take the maximum h for which at least h articles have been cited at least h times. You can make a list of all your articles, with the number of citations. Sort the articles in order of the number of citations, from high to low. Plot this. Now, where the x-value is the same as the y-value, that is your h-index.

Here is a personal example to the right. My h-index is 2, which is quite nice I think, for a PhD candidate around her 1.5-year point :)

Read more about the h-index, and also the criticism at WikiPedia. Publish or Perish can calculate it for you automatically, but the number it gives might be incorrect. It uses Google Scholar to determine your index, and I’ve come across a couple of problems with that. First of all your name might be incorrectly cited, or maybe you changed your name. In my case, Danny Oude Bos gets cited as D Oude Bos (correct), but also as DO Bos or even O Bos. Also, I got married last year, so now my name is D Plass-Oude Bos, adding a whole new range of possible permutations :$