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Manage Your Research Identity and Track Your Impact

This guide describes how to build a researcher identity online through the use of unique IDs and social media profiles. It also describes online tools for tracking the impact of your research.

Author Impact

The number of works a researcher has published and the number of times these works have been cited can be an indicator of the academic impact of an individual researcher.

The h-index is the most widely used author-level metric. It measures both productivity (number of papers) and impact (number of citations) of an author's scholarly output.

The value of "h" is equal to the number of published papers (h) sorted in descending order with at least (h) citations, as seen in the graph below.

graphical representation of the h-index

Limitations of the h-index

A large body of research demonstrates a number of serious biases and problems with use of the h-index. Key problems include:

  • The h-index favours researchers with longer careers and should never be used to compare researchers at different career stages.
  • The h-index favours researchers in publication- and citation-dense fields. If used to compare researchers from different fields or even sub-fields, this leads to unfair comparisons.
  • The h-index can incentivise unethical publishing and/or referencing behaviour including:
    • breaking scientific studies down into small chunks and publishing each part as a separate paper (sometimes called "salami slicing")
    • excessive self-citation
    • "citation cartels" where groups of authors or colleagues inappropriately cite each other's papers
  • The h-index does not account for significant scholarly activities such as:
    • leadership/vision
    • collaboration and teamwork
    • teaching skills
    • research quality

For more information as well as a graphical version of these points, see CWTS. (2021). Halt the H-index. Zenodo.

Calculating your h-index

There are several subscription-based and free databases that can be used to calculate your h-index, as well as numerous other author-level metrics.  Because each database covers a different set of sources, your metrics will likely differ from database to database. If you find that not all of your publications are contained in any one database, you may want to use a customizable tool such as Publish or Perish.

Further reading

Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual's scientific research outputProceedings of the National academy of Sciences of the United States of America102(46), 16569-16572.