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    Einstein Has An H’ Index Of 1?
    By Christopher Schadt | September 5th 2009 10:34 PM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Christopher

    I'm a microbiologist working for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Department of Energy) in Tennessee. I have worked at ORNL for 6+ yrs, ever since...

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    One of the biggest axioms of management is “what cannot be measured cannot be managed”.

    Unfortunately this is a truism that effects scientists as much as the rest of the world.  The latest trend in hiring committees, tenure review, promotions, etc., is to use statistics such as the H’ Index to quantify scientific productivity.  This sounds good and reasonable, but unfortunately the main source used for this is the ISI Web of Science by Thomson-Rueters.  This database is incomplete to say the least and misses many legitimate publications entirely.

    If the database you use to make these measurements is incomplete, you might as well make no measurement at all.  Mainly because, this can be just down right misleading and can actually be damaging to people’s careers!

    Here is my favorite example comparing myself vs. Albert Einstein.

    According to ISI, I have an H’ Index of 11 (I actually know it to be higher).  This is based on the number of times papers I have published have been cited or referenced by other others.  Basically it boils down to the fact that I have at least 11 papers that have been cited at least 11 times.  Soon another of my papers will reach the 12 citation mark and I will advance the lofty H’ index score of 12!

    When you look up “Einstein A” what you get, besides a bunch of biomedical papers that are obviously a different Einstein, is 7 papers published from 1969-2006 (reprints and commentaries made by others mostly)! Only one of these papers has ever been cited, and then only 7 times.  Thus, according to ISI, Einstein has an H’ Index of 1. 

    Tomorrow I will ask my manager for a raise, because obviously my short career in science has already been more productive than Albert Einstein’s.

    Comments

    Ashwani Kumar

    H index is no measure of impact of reserach as Big publishers have over 1400 journals published by them and if one publishes 14 articles and quotes his own articles again and again his H index will be more
    Its important that regional reserach takes place and is published in local network or journals which may not have impact factor but will serve the society and not the maga publishers of rich nations.
    Ashwani Kumar

    Hfarmer
    This just goes to show that accountants should not be placed in charge of scientist.  They value quantity while we value quality. Quantity does not equal quality, either by publishing many papers or being cited often.  Suppose in those papers the paper being cited is being debunked, discredited, or otherwise refuted?  I wonder how may papers by Jan Hendrik Schon have been cited in other papers, as examples of what not to do?  lol. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Going by the way academicians are measuring these h-index, g-index metrics and using this as a gateway to more marketing (fellowships in coveted societies, boosting image and hence getting grants for useless work) is ridiculous. I have personally seen many papers that are 'literally useless work' having 200+ citations particularly in the area of computer and communication networks. Unfortunately, neither those papers are used in industry nor is there a rigorous theoretical establishment to justify the results that appear. Like any optimization problem, if the goal is between quantity and quality - there is always a reciprocal relationship. It is a pity that even in applied theory, results in pure mathematics are just taken and applied on pathogical scenarios deemed unlikely of any use and this is the trend of papers in the information theory transactions appearing since 2000 as well as in networking literature which has already set really poor standards. When I read through papers written during 1980's and earlier, there is a clear cut distinction in the way technical writings appear, thoughts coherently organized and scenarios solved that have clearly killer applications. It's unfortunate that neither granting agencies recognize that their money is wasted on people who are marketing their useless work in the pretext of research nor the smartest people lead the way by ensuring quality.

    A. Einstein has h-index of 44! One of his paper at PHYSICAL REVIEW Volume: 47 Issue: 10 Pages: 0777-0780 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRev.47.777 Published: MAY 1935, cited by more than 5000 times!