Name: h-index (or Hirsch index)
Can apply to: Authors who have published articles in scholarly journals that have been cited in other scholarly publications.
Metric definition: An author-level metric calculated from the quantity and citations of an author’s publications.
Metric calculation: “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 fewer than ≤ h citations each” Hirsch, 2005, p. 16569
Data sources: Citation data used to calculate the h-index can be retrieved from Google Scholar, Scopus, Web of Science, or by citations scraped from any text corpus.
Appropriate use cases: The h-index should be used in conjunction with other metrics as evidence of scholarly impact for an author’s body of work.
Limitations: Many limitations have been identified by bibliometric scholars. The h-index varies by discipline due to varying norms of publishing speed and quantity. Since it does not take into account the longevity of a scholar’s career, it benefits more experienced scholars over early-career individuals. The h-index is unable to differentiate between active and inactive scientists. It also fails to distinguish between publications which have had sustained impact over decades and those that may be ‘trendy’, receiving a burst of citations over a few years. The h-index is also relatively insensitive to highly cited papers.
Inappropriate use cases: The h-index should not be used as a sole metric of scholarly impact, nor should it be used to measure the quality of an author’s work. The h-index should not be used to rank authors, particularly across disciplines or those at different stages of their career
Available metrics sources: The h-index can be manually calculated, or you can retrieve it from Google Scholar, Scopus, or the Web of Science.
Transparency: The formula for calculating the h-index is openly available. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-index.
Timeframe: The h-index can be calculated for any author or for any subset of an author’s publications.
Bornmann, L., & Daniel, H. D. (2007). What do we know about the h index?. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and technology, 58(9), 1381-1385.
Hirsch, J.E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 102(46),16569–16572.