h-Index for Non-Prominent Scientists: A Case Study by Michael Schreiber

A case study of the Hirsch index for 26 non-prominent physicists, Michael Schreiber, 10.1002/andp.200710252. Abstract: ‘The h index was introduced by Hirsch to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. It has been widely used in different fields to show the relevance of the research work of prominent scientists. I have worked out 26 practical cases of physicists which are not so prominent. Therefore this case study should be more relevant to discuss various features of the Hirsch index which are interesting or disturbing or both for the more average situation. In particular, I investigate quantitatively some pitfalls in the evaluation and the influence of self-citations.’

And from Summary and outlook: ‘The popularity of the Hirsch index is increasing. I believe that it would be fairer and safer to utilize the sharpened index hs. Both comprise the information about publication quantity and citation quality into a single number. The main disadvantages are the same: firstly the number of co-authors has no influence on the calculation of the index, and secondly it is not sensitive to one or several outstandingly high citation counts because, once a paper has reached the h-defining set, it is no longer relevant whether or not it is further cited. Nevertheless, it is a reasonable assumption that the Hirsch index will be more frequently used in the future when assessing the scientific achievement of scientists for evaluation and promotion purposes.’

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