Four reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index

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Four reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index

Postby mgcrisp » Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:05 am

Great little blog piece from Stacy Konkiel on the h-index and altmetrics called 'Four reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index'. I like that Stacy doesn't ask us to stop caring all together about the h-index but to just stop caring 'so much' about it.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2014/03/31/four-reasons-to-stop-caring-so-much-about-the-h-index/
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Re: Four reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index

Postby mgcrisp » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:24 am

It seems confusing to me to be comparing h-index directly with Altmetrics. To me they appear to be two different things. H-index attempts to measure the productivity of a person whereas Altmetric attempts to measure the influence of an article. Why not compare the Altmetric to Relative Citation Impact (RCI) for example? The RCI is normalized for the discipline and year the article was published and gives a measure of whether the article has been cited above or below the expected average rate for the discipline. It is not immediately clear how to determine whether an Altmetrics score is relatively high or low for the discipline so it would be useful if it incorporated some sort of benchmark.
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Re: Four reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index

Postby DaFinchi » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:54 pm

There are variants on the h-index that attempt to address some of the problems with metric - some which normalise by career length (m-), account for co-authorship (individual h-) or incorporate the effect of outliers (g-).

I still haven't seen any that can really account for the differences in subject area or the failure of consistency over time. Even if a variant metric could fix these problems, you'd still be left asking "What is the average h-index for this discipline?".

And, of course, there's the same issue with the Impact Factor - because it's the best known version, it's the one everyone uses, even when there are alternatives around.

At the end of the day, evaluation of the individual should be resisted until they have published enough for a robust analysis, and should be conducted using a basket of metrics. In the ACACIA tool I've constructed, individuals' RCI, h-index, citation percentiles and total citations are considered, along with "prestige" indicators like Nature/Science/PNAS publications and Impact Factor quartiles.
Adam Finch

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Disclosure: I work as an analyst in Science Excellence for CSIRO. Any opinions are expressed as a private individual and may not reflect the official perspective of CSIRO.
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Re: Four reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index

Postby mgcrisp » Sat Aug 16, 2014 12:07 pm

That is a good point. The ACACIA tool sounds interesting - does it account for research impact as well as quality? The h-index is still useful I think when used with a suite of other measures. On its own it is more of a "my h-index" is bigger then yours" sort of measure that researchers who have been at it a long time can talk about.
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Re: Four reasons to stop caring so much about the h-index

Postby DaFinchi » Thu Aug 21, 2014 11:27 am

Indeed. Some studies have indicated the primary predictors in the h-index (particularly given self-citation influences) are career length and subject area!

ACACIA does not include impact metrics. That would need us to get to the long and challenging road of constructing and providing data for impact metrics, something the the UK REF, US STAR-Metrics and the Go8/ATN trial have not yet (to the best of my knowledge) accomplished. But this is not my primary area of expertise so I'll refrain from commenting too much :D
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