H-Index and Its Variants: A Critical Analysis

H-Index and Its Variants: A Critical Analysis

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5945-0.ch005

Abstract

Researchers suggest that the use of h-index for the purpose of the evaluation of research performance, its dependencies like the academic career, and the subject field of his/her publications should always be considered and taken into account for fruitful results. Also, h-index should be complemented with its variants to reduce its shortcomings. In the future, researchers should focus on testing the validity and applicability of the existing h-index variants rather than developing the new ones. Further, it is not possible to reflect the scientist's or researcher's academic contribution merely in terms of numerical values. The quantities to signify research quality should be considered with a grain of salt.
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Hirsch-Index (H-Index)

The fame of h-index is growing because of the impression that it is a simple and easy metric to asses both the quantity and quality of a researcher’s scientific output. The Hirsch- index or h-index is a renowned scientometric indicator introduced by Hirsch in 2005. It aims to capture scientists’ impact in a research area. The h-index was primarily proposed as a better substitute to other bibliometric indicators (Bornmann, Mutz, Hug, & Daniel, 2011; Egghe, 2006; Egghe & Rousseau, 2006; Hirsch, 2005; Moed, 2005; Van Raan, 2006). Being a simple indicator to perceive the impact and worth of scientist’s research work it has attracted a lot of consideration. A huge interest has been shown by the scientific community for this indicator (Ball, 2005; Bador & Lafounge, 2010; Bar-Ilan, 2008a; Bar-Ilan, 2008b; Bar-Ilan & Levene, 2015; Baruch, Szűcs, & Gunz, 2015; Benevenuto, Laender & Alves, 2015; Bertoli-Barsotti, & Lando,2015; Bornmann & Daniel, 2005; Bornmann, et al., 2011; Cronin & Meho, 2006; Dong, Johnson & Chawla, 2015; Dorogovtsev & Mendes, 2015; Glänzel & Persson, 2005; Jenkins, 2015; Jin, 2007; Hodge, Lacasse, & Bean, 2016; Kelly and Jennions, 2006; Liu & Rousseau, 2009; Lopez, Susarla, Swanson, Calotta & Lifchez, 2015; Lü, Zhou, Zhang & Stanley, 2016; Marshall, et.al., 2016; Olensky, Tsai & Chen, 2016; Monastersky, 2005; Nazaroff, 2005; Rousseau, 2006a; Rousseau, 2006b; Saad, 2010; Schubert, 2015; Schreiber, 2015; Van Raan, 2006; Van Bevern, et al., 2016; Van Bevern, Komusiewicz, Molter, Niedermeier, Sorge & Walsh, 2015; Van Eck & Waltman 2008; Watson, McDonagh & Thompson, 2016; Xu, Liu, & Mingers, 2015; Washburn, 2015; Westreich, 2015; Würtz & Schmidt, 2016; Zhang, 2009; Zhang, Manor & Li, 2015). The scientometricians and bibliometricians are so-much engrossed in the h-index that the history of the subject can now be virtually divided into pre-Hirsch and a post-Hirsch period. Further than its value in academics, it is now used as a necessary index for the evaluation and assessment of researchers, research faculties and institutions and also for the comparison and performance evaluation journals and nations (Prathap, 2010). The popularity and status of the h-index in scientometrics remains undiminished. According to Cronin and Meho (2006); Glänzel, (2006); Hirsch, (2005); Sidiropoulos, Katsaros, and Manolopoulos (2006); Van Raan (2004) a scientist's h index can never decrease, as with every citation to anew paper published, an increase in h-index is to be expected. An author having h-index 0 does not signify that the researcher is completely inactive but he/she have number of published papers but with 0 citations each, thus the h-index is 0. The h index is not only used to measure the scientific influence of researcher or scientist, rather, is also considered to be an active indicator in order to measure the scientific productivity of scientific communities, research groups, scientific services and also countries (Bornmann & Marx, 2011; Schubert, 2015; Van Raan, 2006). The h index can now be calculated automatically for any publication set in Web of Science (Thomson Reuters), Scopus (by Elsevier) and Google Scholar. (Bornmann & Marx & Schier, 2011; Gracza & Somoskovi, 2007).

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