Hirsch Index of Scientific Achievement

Nature includes a brief piece on a tool that ranks scientists according to the quality of their work and predicts future performance. The Hirsch Index (h-index) reflects the number n of a researcher’s papers that have all received at least n citations, impact factor be damned. For example, George Whitesides (Harvard) has 135 papers that have been cited at least 135 times. Hirsch has found that the h-index predicts future productivity even better than it does past productivity.



  1. drugmonkey said

    what does h-index have to do with the “quality of their work”?

  2. whimple said

    I think the first sentence in the Discussion is relevant:

    “Our results indicate that the h-index and the total
    number of citations are better than the number of pa-
    pers and the mean citations per paper to predict future
    achievement, with achievement defined by either the in-
    dicator itself or the total citation count Nc.”

    As DM points out, you need to believe that either the h-index, or total citation count actually is a measure of achievement for either to be meaningful. Goodhart’s Law, that when an indicator starts being the goal, it ceases to be an indicator, also seems relevant here.

  3. drugmonkey said

    try DC’s GoodScience site for additional discussion on the topic of measuring academic performance with h-index, impact factor and the like…

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