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Research Metrics

This guide will help you understand research metrics about authors, articles/books, and journals.

What is the h-Index?

The h-index is a number intended to represent both the productivity and the impact of a particular scientist or scholar, or a group of scientists or scholars (such as a departmental or research group). 

The h-index is calculated by counting the number of publications for which an author has been cited by other authors at least that same number of times.  For instance, an h-index of 17 means that the scientist has published at least 17 papers that have each been cited at least 17 times.  If the scientist's 18th most cited publication was cited only 10 times, the h-index would remain at 17.  If the scientist's 18th most cited publication was cited 18 or more times, the h-index would rise to 18.

Part of the purpose of the h-index is to eliminate outlier publications that might give a skewed picture of a scientist's impact.  For instance, if a scientist published one paper many years ago that was cited 9,374 times, but has since only published papers that have been cited 2 or 3 times each, a straight citation count for that scientist could make it seem that his or her long-term career work was very significant.  The h-index, however, would be much lower, signifying that the scientist's overall body of work was not necessarily as significant.
 

graphic representation of h-index calculation, with citations on the y axis and papers on the x axis.

Used with permission of the Oregon State Library.

h-Index Caveats

  • What constitutes a "high" h-index varies by discipline (physicists have higher h-indexes than librarians, generally).
  • People who have many co-authors will have a higher h-index than those who author more solo papers.
  • H-index calculators (such as Web of Science and Google Scholar) will estimate someone's h-index differently from one another because they're relying on different sources (Web of Science's database is smaller and more academic than Google Scholar's).
  • The h-index is dependent on a researcher's "academic age."  Someone who has been publishing longer will have a higher h-index relative to a newer researcher.
  • Manually calculating an h-index will likely result in a different number than automated h-indexes.

It's always best to use the h-index in context, comparing scholars with their peers, and using other metrics as well.

Used with permission of the Oregon State Library.

Web of Science

1. Go to Web of Science from the BYU Library database list and change your search from "Documents" to "Authors."

2. Choose the "Refine results" options that will narrow down the author of interest.

3. Choose an Author Record or combine two or more Author Records with the "View as combined record button".

4. From the results page, the right side of the page list a quick summary of Author Metrics. To refine the reports and remove any articles that may not be by the author, click "View citation report."

5. You'll see the citation analysis numbers at the top of the page, but first...

6. Look through the results to make sure they're accurate.  Click the next to the title of each article to remove any records that aren't relevant. The results will automatically update. 

7. Now you will see the h-index at the top of the page along with other metrics.

*Duplicate Authors
If someone has a unique name, you may want to skip steps 2 (selecting research domain) & 3.  Limiting by research domain and organization sometimes excludes relevant results.  On the flip side, if someone has a common name (like J Smith), failure to use these limiters can result in thousands of false positives.  It's a good idea to compare the final result set to a researcher's CV or other authoritative list of publications.  Find this disambiguation process frustrating?  Librarians do, too!  Encourage the researchers you know to get an ORCID identifier.

Adapted with permission of the Oregon State Library.

Scopus

1. Go to Scopus from the BYU Library database list and change your search from "Documents" to "Authors."

2. Enter the author's name with the last name in the first search box. Add the first name in the second box either as a whole first name (ie., Gregory), a whole first name with a middle initial followed by a period (ie. Gregory M.) or as the initials for the first and second name separated by periods (ie. G.M.)

OR

Search using the ORCID option under the Author name dropdown menu and add the author's ORCID ID.

3. Click "Add Affiliation" to narrow to specific organizations.*

4. Click on the Search button.

5. From the results page, the h-index is listed in the third column (red square). For a more detailed view, click on the author's name (red oval).

6. You'll see the citation analysis numbers on the left of the page, but first...

7. Look through the results to make sure they're accurate. You will see the h-index on the left of the page along with other options.

*Note: If someone has a unique name, you may want to skip step 3.  Limiting by affiliation sometimes excludes relevant results.  On the flip side, if someone has a common name (like J Smith), failure to use these limiters can result in thousands of false positives.  It's a good idea to compare the final result set to a researcher's CV or other authoritative list of publications.  Find this disambiguation process frustrating?  Librarians do, too!  Encourage the researchers you know to get an ORCID identifier.

 

Google Scholar

1. To find a researcher's h-index with Google Scholar, search for their name.  

2. If a user profile comes up* with the correct name, discipline, and institution, click on that.

screenshot of a user profile in Google Scholar

3. The h-index will be displayed for that author under "citation indices" on the top right-hand side.

screenshot of citation indices in Google Scholar

* If no user profile comes up, you'll need to use another tool, like Web of Science or manually calculate the individual's h-index.

Used with permission of the Oregon State Library.

Publish or Perish

Publish or Perish is a software program that retrieves and analyzes academic citations. It uses a variety of data sources (incl. Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search) to obtain the raw citations, then analyzes these and presents the following metrics:

  • Total number of papers and total number of citations
  • Average citations per paper, citations per author, papers per author, and citations per year
  • Hirsch's h-index and related parameters
  • Egghe's g-index
  • The contemporary h-index
  • Three variations of individual h-indices
  • The average annual increase in the individual h-index
  • The age-weighted citation rate
  • An analysis of the number of authors per paper.

The results are available on-screen and can also be copied to the Windows clipboard (for pasting into other applications) or saved to a variety of output formats (for future reference or further analysis). Publish or Perish includes a detailed help file with search tips and additional information about the citation metrics. (From https://harzing.com/resources/publish-or-perish)

Publish or Perish calculates and displays the h-index proper, its associated proportionality constant a (from Nc,tot = ah2), and the rate parameter m (from h ~ mn, where n is the number of years since the first publication).

Info These metrics are shown as h-index, Hirsch a=y.yy, m=z.zz in the output. (From https://harzing.com/pophelp/metrics.htm#hindex)