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Author Metrics - Overview
When demonstrating author productivity and impact the most common metric used is the H-Index.
In order to help ensure more accurate metrics for themselves, authors would be wise to sign up for and use stable author identifier numbers like an ORCiD to help validate which publications are theirs, identify themselves uniquely among others with similar names, help track their own papers if they have had name changes, and improve the findability of other types of their outputs such as blog posts, conference papers, and posters.
Additionally, social media impact can be measured through ImpactStory.
Author Profiles, H-Index, & Disambiguation
Author profiles and identification numbers are the best way to disambiguate you and your citations from an author with a similar name. These profiles are essential to calculating metrics like the H-Index and by signing up for and managing your authorial profiles you will ensure the accuracy of the citations attributed to you and the associated metric outputs.
ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher, and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized. ORCiD is fast becoming the leader in this area and many journals are requiring them prior to publication.
You can use it to manage your authorial identity (uniquely identifying you despite name changes or similar names to others) and track all manner of scholarly outputs including manuscripts, posters, paper presentations, policy papers and more. The variety of scholarly outputs is unlike other author id services which only track published articles.
Scopus Author Profile
Scopus author profiles are algorithmically created and can be manually updated and corrected. You can associate your ORCiD and your Scopus author profile for increased accuracy. Scopus does a good job of associating alternative spellings and variations of name with one individual. The citations in your author profile are used to calculate your unique h-index number.
Web of Science ResearcherID
ResearcherID from Web of Science has been available since 2007. You can add your publications, track your citations and peer review contributions, and manage your Web of Science record. This profile is where your Web of Science H-Index is calculated.
Setting up your Google Scholar profile is essential to manage what citations are attributed to you in Google Scholar. Although GS automatically attributes citations to authors you must manually remove those that do not belong to you. Your GS i-10 index is calculated based on the information in your profile.
i10 Index (Google Scholar)
The i10-Index is the number of publications with at least 10 citations. This very simple measure that is only used by Google Scholar. Advantages of i10-Index are that it is very simple and straightforward to calculate but it is not widely used and has the same issues as the Google Scholar-calculated H-index.
You can join ImpactStory Profiles for free by using a Twitter account.
From ImpactStory.com: "Impactstory is an open-source, web-based tool that helps scientists explore and share the diverse impacts of all their research products—from traditional ones like journal articles, to emerging products like blog posts, datasets, and software. By helping scientists tell data-driven stories about their impacts, we're helping to build a new scholarly reward system that values and encourages web-native scholarship."
First suggested in 2005 by Hirsch in his article Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output. Proceedings of the National academy of Sciences, 102(46), 16569-16572.
The H-index is a metric representing the intersection of an author's productivity (publication count) and impact (citation count).The basic formula is that : h is the number of articles greater than h that have at least h citations. For example, an h-index of 5 means that there are 5 items that have 5 citations or more.
There are major caveats to using this metric:
- It will vary greatly for authors in different subject fields, as different fields have different publishing norms.
- It does not take author role/contribution into account (1st, 2nd, last author placement)
- There are statistical validity issues with the metric because h-index has a preference towards scholars who produce many moderately cited publications over those who prefer to produce a few high impact papers.
- It should not be the only metric you use to assess impact
- It should not be used to compare researchers except in very few instances - see the section below on Comparing Researchers for more information.
Further Reading on the H-Index
- Teixeira da Silva JA, Dobránszki J. Multiple versions of the h-index: Cautionary use for formal academic purposes. Scientometrics. 2018 May 1;115(2):1107-13
- Costas R, Franssen T. Reflections around 'the cautionary use' of the h-index: response to Teixeira da Silva and Dobránszki. Scientometrics. 2018;115(2):1125-1130.
- Bollen, J., Van de Sompel, H., Hagberg, A., & Chute, R. (2009). A Principal Component Analysis of 39 Scientific Impact Measures. PLoS ONE, 4(6).
H-Index: Comparing Researchers
It is usually inappropriate to compare researchers to each other using the H-index.
Any kind of comparisons will have the best results only if the researchers compared are:
- in the same field, in the same discipline (for example, a Toxicologist in the Biochemistry Department whose research focuses on environment toxicology should not be compared with an pharmaceutical toxicologist even though both are in the Biochemistry field.)
- at the same stage of their career
- have been tenured for a similar length of time
- be published in similar journals
And always be aware that there are systemic reasons why two researchers may not have similar scholarly output: funding, family needs, career path, research topic choice, as well as the broader issues and impacts of gender, racial, socio-economic, and class status.
H-Index: Where & How to Find It
There are three providers that calculate the H-index for authors (Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar). Each one will give a different number because each has different coverage , benefits, and limitations.
The key is to choose one source and be consistent because there is no one official H-index for a person.
To find an author they first need to create their own Google Scholar Profile. Many authors do not have a profile and there are major issues with using Scholar as a source for the h-index including: algorithmic issues, duplicate entries, little to no author disambiguation, actual coverage/scope is impossible to know, and the user generated h-index can lead to bias and manipulation