Your h-index

The h-index metric is an attempt to measure productivity and impact by looking at a group of publications, usually from a specific researcher.  The h-index is calculated from the number of papers published by the researcher and the number of citations that have been made to those papers.

There are many limitations and issues with this metric.   Have a look at the metrics toolkit h-index page for more information.

How is an h-index calculated

You can find out about how an h-index is calculated in this article by J.E. Hirsch (2005) in which he proposes the h-index.

Hirsch describes the calculation as: “A scientist has index h if h of his or her Np papers have at least h citations each and the other (Np _ h) papers have _h citations each”

Therefore, a researcher who has published 6 papers, that have each received at least 6 citations, will have a h-index of 6.

Interpreting h-indexes

Below is a list of some of the issues you should consider when interpreting h-index values.

  • A researcher’s  h-index will change over time as they produce more publications and as others cite their research.
    • It is therefore not appropriate to compare h-indexes of researchers at different career stages and it is expected that early career researchers will have a lower h-index.  For example, if you have published a total of 3 papers, your h-index cannot be more than 3, however highly cited the papers may be.
  • Citation patterns vary dramatically between disciplines.
    • The h-index of researchers in different disciplines will vary with the pattern in their discipline and therefore the h-index should not be used to compare researchers across different disciplines
  • The pattern of citations to a researcher’s papers can affect the h-index.
    • It is possible for a researcher with the same number of papers and citations to those papers, to have a different h-index, if for example, their papers are more consistently cited
  • When using any metric based on citations it is worth remembering that citations are a measure of attention rather than quality and there are biases that may affect levels of citation
Finding your h-index

You can find your h-index using Scopus, Google Scholar and Web of Science. Your h-index might differ in these different sources because of the different literature they index. If you quote your h-index, it is good practice to say which of these sources you used to find it.


Your h-index in Scopus

In Scopus, use the ‘Authors’ search tab to find your profile on Scopus (you can search by your name and affiliation).  Click on your name to see your details, including your h-index.

Make sure the articles attributed to you are the correct ones and none are missing (if any of your articles aren’t indexed on Scopus they will not be on your profile).  The accuracy of your h-index depends on the correct articles being in your profile. If the information isn’t correct you can Manage your author profile on Scopus.

 


Your h-index in Google Scholar

If you have a Google Scholar profile and have claimed your publications, you can see your h-index. You can set up a Google Scholar profile using Google Scholar Citations. Google Scholar tends to index a wider variety of sources, such as books and can therefore be a better choice in some disciplines.

Google Scholar Citations: Setup provides instructions for how to create you profile.

Google scholar hindex
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Your h-index in Web of Science

To find your h-index in Web of Science, you need to find all your articles in the database. You can do this using the author search, but you need to make sure you have correctly identified yourself and your papers, or the h-index calculation will be incorrect.  Once you have identified your papers, creating a citation report on that set of papers will show you your h-index.  This video shows you how to use the citation report function in Web of Science.


 

It is important to use a number of different metrics (not rely on just one) and to use qualitative analysis in your judgements of research outputs and researchers, not just quantitative measures.  H-indexes should not be used in isolation and because of the limitations and biases of h-indexes are best avoided.  Peer review and expert opinion should be the most important element in any evaluation of research.  Please read the University’s guidance on Responsible metrics: a guide to research assessment and the use of quantitative indicators.