What is your h-index value?

The above question may be a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) for an academician, a scholar or a researcher who publishes papers in periodic journals. The answer brings an idea for his/her academic quantification, productivity or citation impact. 

What is the contribution to science or how do you measure your contributions to science? It is not easy to decide this contribution or it is not easy to answer this question. H-index can answer to this question by saying a single number. Scopus, Web of science, or other platforms use this number as criteria. 

The h-index value can be defined as the series of the scientists’ most cited papers and the number of citations they have received in other publications. Of course, its value is entirely related to the number of publications.

Jorge E. Hirsch assessed the h-index value in 2005. He is a physicist at UC San Diego. Thus, this index can be called as the Hirsch index or Hirsch number [1]

We can accept this value for a researcher or academician as a fast or quick CV. 

This kind of value does not depend on other questions such as “Which university do you graduate?” or “Where did you get your PhD degree?” for an individual scientist or scholar. In other words, this question can be neglected to a diploma for a scholar. 

Based on Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, the h-index links to obvious indicators of success such as winning the Nobel Prize, being accepted for research fellowships and getting position at top universities [2]

Imagine that one has a single paper and this paper has a citation. His/Her h-index will be 1. Another one has 100 papers and each of these papers has 100 citations. Then, he/she will have 100 as the h-index value. The third scientist has 1 paper again, but imagine that this paper has 1000 citations. Again, the h-index value will be 1. Please, make comparison among these three academicians from the academic productivity or quantification. If you are a president or rector for a university or department head, which one would you rather choose to hire? If we can look at it from another perspective, the quality of the journal is not essential for the h-index value. 

S/he published his/her papers in a journal with the same index such as SCI or SCI-expanded, and Impact factor is high, but the h-index can be low if the total publication number is low. In other words, the h-index does not give any information about the quality of the paper. But it is a good thing if someone wants to get a higher h-index, his/her publication number must be high. The h-index is also a function of published paper numbers. 

From the paragraph above, we can conclude that the value of the h-index should be evaluated within a single discipline. For example, h-index = 10 may be a very low number in one discipline and massive value in another. For his reason, “About half of the scientific community loves the h-index and half hates it,” Hirsch writes, “The scientist’s h-index is a great foresight of whether he belongs to the first or second group.” [3].

This index can be an award criterion for an academic to be promoted academically at his/her own university or even to receive a PhD student limit.

Is there another index or index to evaluate academic productivity? The answer is yes. For example, I can mention i10-index. The i10 index means how many papers received at least 10 citations. For example, a person has 100 published papers and each of these papers has received at least 10 citations, with an i10 index value of 100 in literature. The g-index is presented as an improvement of Hirsch’s h-index to measure the global citation performance of a series of articles. If this cluster is sorted in descending order of the number of citations they receive, the g-index (unique) is the most significant number, such that the best g articles (together) received the least g2 citations [4].

All of the above discussion led to another question: Are these indexes reliable? For example, we cannot see the number of self-citations in these directories. Self-quoting might be better, because it’s also a measure of productivity. If someone doesn’t have a published post, how can they self-cite it?

There are other indexes in the literature, but I did not mention them. Because popular academic web pages such as google academic, web of science and scopus use these two indexes as h-index and i10-index. I suggest that you don’t try to get a higher number of h-indexes. In other words, the h-index is not the first target. If someone works hard and has a creative creator and publishes the original publication in higher impact factor journals. In that case, those posts get good citations and the h-index goes up automatically.


  1. Bornmann, Lutz; Daniel, Hans-Dieter (July 2007). “What do we know about the h-index?”. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 58 (9): 1381–1385. doi:10.1002/asi.20609.
  2. Hirsch, J. E. (15 November 2005). “An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output”. PNAS. 102 (46): 16569–72. arXiv:physics/0508025. Bibcode:2005PNAS..10216569H. doi:10.1073/pnas.0507655102. PMC 1283832. PMID 16275915.
  3. https://www.nature.com/nature-index/news-blog/whats-wrong-with-the-h-index-according-to-its-inventor
  4. https://libguides.graduateinstitute.ch/metrics/author_impact