H-index douchery

Sep 20 2012 Published by under [Education&Careers]

There's been a bit of increased interest in the h-index since the h-index prediction tool came out yesterday. I've never paid attention to h-index, mostly because it is not something my university uses for evaluation (at least to my knowledge). Having never been evaluated by it, I had no reason to calculate my own.

But today I decided I should at least be aware of my h-index and I was curious what the prediction would tell me. After poking the twitterverse for how one actually comes up with these numbers, I managed to figure mine out.

And so what?

It's a number that I have no reference for. If I told you your PLS-index was 2375, it would be similarly meaningless to you. So what is considered a decent h-index for someone in my field who is coming up for tenure in a year? @EcoEvoProf mentioned that the people at her previous university who got tenure were in the 12-14 range. I guess that's helpful.

So what is a good h-index in the evolutionary biology field for roughly tenure-aged folks? How much variability is there in different fields? Does anyone give a shit?

13 responses so far

  • I think it is very field dependent and from what I know there is a lot of variability. For example in my subfield having an h-index in double digits is a big deal. Super stars have h-index in 20's. In my other sub field having an h-index in double digits is no big deal.

    I would try to go and look for superstar in your field and look at his/her h-index. You don't have to calculate it. Just scholar.google.com and search the name and it would give you profiles of people (if they have a public profile) which I assume people would have in your field. The profiles have h-index calculated by automatically and in my experience is quite accurate.

    for your pleasure :
    http://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&view_op=search_authors&mauthors=albert+einstein

  • European Academic says:

    First, it's field dependent and second, it's citation database dependent, because you get a different value if you use Google Scholar (most citations for my field), vs. Scopus (second most citations) vs. Web of Science (which does not reference many journals in my field, so it's pretty useless).

    In my field (branch of ICT), if your h index equals roughly the number of years post getting your PhD, then you're good.

    So for example, my Google Scholar h-index is 9, Scopus is 7 and Web of Science is 3. Given that I'm 6.5 years post-PhD, that's pretty good in the context of my field.

  • European Academic says:

    Oh and yes, some people do actually give a shit: am just preparing a major international grant proposal and in the section of my publications, I am required to list the number of citations that each of my papers attracted, plus give my h-index (as a measure of impact). Although, again, this might be totally field-dependent.

  • I have no idea in my field. According to my Google Scholar profile, mine is 8--to my knowledge, that wasn't used in my tenure case either.

  • gerty-z says:

    meh. don't know what mine is, don't really care

  • BBBShrewHarpy says:

    The person I respect the very least in my field has the highest (self-reported) h-index of anyone in our department/field/universe. So dum tee dum; it's a meaningless number (I think it's a number, not really sure what it is) and I have no curiosity about it.

  • [...] don't know what my h-index is, and I will not be taking the time to figure it out. It is stupid enough that this is used by [...]

  • AsstProf says:

    For a few reasons, h indices aren't completely stupid. One of these is that it allows a paper in a low impact factor journal that is highly cited to count well. One of the rockstars in my department has a methods paper in a mediocre journal - but it's extremely highly cited, so his h-index is high. Whereas those with Science or Nature papers aren't going to be overranked if the paper isn't cited often.
    I've heard rumors that it's glanced at for tenure, but I don't think its an official part of the process at my school. So we were told to shoot for 12-14 also.

  • phagenista says:

    I've seen very strong evolutionary biologists to get tenure with h-indices less than 10, whereas in other biological departments, the 12-14 range seems more common at tenure. But EEB experiments often have much longer timescales, and so result in fewer pubs that don't come as early in a researcher's career.

  • [...] what a book is. Drum roll, please!) How can we solve the wild problem of science communication? H-index douchery Some citations are more equal than others…but this is invisible to the bean [...]

  • Well, I left science last winter due to lack of local opportunity, but looks like my h-index 6 years out would've been 16 according to that thing.

  • H-i-jacked says:

    <i.So dum tee dum; it's a meaningless number

    It is funny to see a person who is presumably an experimental scientist dismissing an entire data set simply because of one outlier.

    Sounds like someone who reached the conclusion first and is forcing the data to support it.

  • Adam says:

    You should take a look at cestagi's c-index. Much better and diverse measure.

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