Your h-index

Counts of papers published by an author and counts of citations to a document have limited meaning.  The h-index metric is an attempt to measure productivity and impact by looking at a group of publications from a specific researcher, but can be used in other contexts.  The h-index is calculated from the number of papers published and the number of citations that have been made to those papers.

An h-index of 6 for an author means that the author has published at least 6 papers that have each received at least 6 citations.

There are still some flaws with the h-index and below are 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 also effect 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

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.  The h-index should not be used in isolation, peer review and expert opinion should be an important element in any evaluation of research.

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, find your name using the Author search (for help see the Searching for authors in Scopus video). Click on your name to see your details, including your h-index.

Your h-index in Google Scholar

If you have a Google Scholar profile 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
© 2015 Google Inc. All rights reserved. Google and the Google Logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc.

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.