- In 2005, physicist Jorge E. Hirsch developed the h-index as a process for quantifying the output of an individual researcher.
- Hirsch argues: “I propose the index h, defined as the number of papers with citation number ≤ h, as a useful index to calculate the scientific output of a researcher” (2005).
- Note that the h-index is one of many available bibliometric measures.
Reference: Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(46), 16569-16572. doi:10.1073/pnas.0507655102
- Given Scopus and Web of Science's citation-tracking functionality, they also calculate an individual’s h-index based on content in a particular database.
- Likewise, Google Scholar collects citations and calculates an author's h-index via the Google Scholar Citations Profile feature.
- Note that each database may determine a different h-index for the same individual as the content in each database is unique and different.
Known limitations of the h-index are explored by these publications:
- Bletsas, A. & Sahalos, J.N. (2009). Hirsch index rankings require scaling and higher moment. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(12), 2577-2586.
- García-Pérez, M.A. (2011). Strange attractors in the Web of Science database. Journal of Informetrics, 5(1), 214-218.
- Jacsó, P. (2008). Testing the calculation of a realistic h-index in Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science for F.W. Lancaster. Library Trends, 56(4), 784-815.
- Jiang, L., Sanderson, M., Willett, P., Norris, M., & Oppenheim, C. (2010). Ranking of library and information science researchers: Comparison of data sources for correlating citation data, and expert judgments. Journal of Informetrics, 4(4), 554-563.
Calculate Your h-index
- To manually calculate your h-index, organize articles in descending order, based on the number of times they have been cited (see below example).
- Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar can also be used to calculate an h-index for that particular citation-tracking database.
In the below example, an author has 8 papers that have been cited 33, 30, 20, 15, 7, 6, 5 and 4 times. This tells us that the author's h-index is 6.
What does an h-index of 6 mean?
- An h-index of 6 means that this author has published at least 6 papers that have each received at least 6 citations.
- The first paper has been cited 33 times, and gives us a 1 (there is one paper that has been cited at least once).
- The second paper has been cited 30 times, and gives us a 2 (there are two papers that have been cited at least twice).
- The third paper gives us a 3 and all the way up to 6 with the sixth highest paper.
- The final two papers have no effect in this case as they have been cited less than six times (Ireland, MacDonald & Stirling, 2013).
Material on this page is based on content from the University of Melbourne's Research Impact LibGuide, created by Satu Alakanga and Jennifer Warburton.