What is a good h-index?
What is an h-index?
First of all, an h-index is a rough summary measure of a researcher’s productivity and impact. Productivity is quantified by the number of papers, and impact by the number of citations the researchers' publications have received. It can be useful for identifying the centrality of certain researchers as researchers with a higher h-index will, in general, have produced more work which is considered important by their peers.
You can learn more about the definition of an h-index, why it is important, and how to calculate it, in The ultimate how-to-guide on the h-index.
How to calculate your h-index
As Jorge E. Hirsch, the creator of the h-index describes it, the index h is “the number of papers with citation number ≥h.” While this formula might not explain much, it makes it clear a researcher is perfectly able to calculate their h-index. Here are some helpful guides that will give you more insight on how to calculate the h-index:
The ultimate how-to-guide on the h-index (to calculate it yourself)
Let’s talk numbers: what h-index is good?
According to Hirsch, a person with 20 years of research experience with an h-index of 20 is good, 40 is great, and 60 is remarkable.
But let's go more into details and have a look what a good h-index means in terms of your field of research and stage of career.
What is a good h-index for a Phd student?
It is very common that supervisors expect up to three publications from PhD students. Given the lengthy process of publication and the fact that once the papers are out they also need to be cited, having an h-index of 1 or 2 at the end of your PhD is a big achievement.
What is a good h-index for a Postdoc?
Given that there is no defined time how long postdoctoral training can go on, let's assume that an average Postdoc is able to publish one paper a year. Building on the papers already published during his/her PhD studies, there is a good chance that after two years of postdoctoral training it is a total of 5 papers. If each of these 5 papers has been cited 5 times, it is an h-index of 5.
What is a good h-index for an assistant professor?
These are the average h-index ratings of assistant professors at various universities:
What is a good h-index for an associate professor?
These are the average h-index ratings of associate professors at various universities:
What is a good h-index for a full professor?
These are the average h-index ratings of full professors at various universities:
These numbers shouldn’t be taken as the yardstick of comparison, as every researcher has different experiences, and the h-index is not the only measure that defines them. Hirsch states that “obviously a single number can never give more than a rough approximation to an individual’s multifaceted profile, and many other factors should be considered in combination in evaluating an individual.”
In conclusion, having a good h-index is great but every researcher's case is multifaceted. There are plenty of other aspects to consider while evaluating a researcher.
Frequently Asked Questions about h-index
What is an h-index?
An h-index is a rough summary measure of a researcher’s productivity and impact. Productivity is quantified by the number of papers, and impact by the number of citations the researchers' publications have received.
How do I calculate my h-index on Google Scholar?
Google Scholar can automatically calculate your h-index, read our guide How to calculate your h-index on Google Scholar for further instructions.
How do I calculate my h-index on Scopus?
Even though Scopus needs to crunch millions of citations to find the h-index, the look-up is pretty fast. Read our guide How to calculate your h-index using Scopus for further instructions.
How do I calculate my h-index using Web of Science?
Web of Science is a database that has compiled millions of articles and citations. This data can be used to calculate all sorts of bibliographic metrics including an h-index. Read our guide How to use Web of Science to calculate your h-index for further instructions.
Who invented the h-index?
Jorge E. Hirsch created the h-index in 2005. Here is the paper published in PNAS in which he outlines the h-index in detail.