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Research Impact Library Guide: Your h-index

The guide covers ways you can measure your impact as a researcher.

What is the h-index?

The h-index represents both the productivity and the impact of a particular scientist or scholar, or a group of scientists or scholars (such as a departmental or research group). This index was proposed by and is named for physicist Jorge Hirsch.

The h-index is calculated by counting the number of publications for which the scientist has been cited by other authors at least that same number of times.  For instance, an h-index of 17 means that the scientist has published at least 17 papers that have each been cited at least 17 times.  If the scientist's 18th most cited publication was cited only 10 times, the h-index remains at 17.  If the scientist's 18th most cited publication was cited 18 or more times, the h-index would rise to 18.

Finding your h-index

A researcher's h-index can be calculated manually by locating citation counts for all published papers and ranking them numerically by the times cited.       

Some databases and tools, like Web of Science, Scopus and Publish or Perish,  will calculate this for you. 

  • Web of Science - multi-disciplinary citation database of peer-reviewed literature with tools to track, analyze and visualize research. 
  • Scopus - multi-disciplinary citation database of peer-reviewed literature with tools to track, analyze and visualize research. Citations from 1996.
  • Google Scholar Citation Profile -  creates an h-index for you.  
  • Publish or Perish - software program that retrieves and analyzes academic citations. It uses Google Scholar to obtain the raw citations, then analyzes these 
  • Scholarometer -  an add-on tool on either Chrome or Firefox which allows authors to extract their own bibliographic data, curate it, annotate it and export it to other tools or share it.  It computes metrics such as the h-index. 

Calculating the h-index: Web of Science, Scopus, or Google Scholar?  A useful guide from MyRI discussing the pros and and cons of using each.

If you apply for an NRF rating,  you need to provide your h-index from Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar.


Different databases will give different values for the h-index. This is because the databases are  selective in their journal coverage and some disciplines are better covered than others. The h-index is based on the citations contained in that database.

 Conference proceedings and monographs are not well covered. 

Google Scholar (GS) does not provide an h-index but can be used with Publish or Perish software. The data from GS often includes duplicates (pre-prints & post-prints) and it can be difficult to distinguish between authors with the same initials. Manual editing of search results is required.

However, you can set up a Google Scholar Citation Profile which does provide an h-index. 

Also, what is considered a good h-index could differ depending on the discipline -  a number that is considered low in one area might be high in another field.

Locating one's H-index in Google Scholar

To search for your own h-index, you would need to first create a Google Scholar Profile. See How to set up Google Scholar Profile slides.

Alternatively you can open How to set up Google Scholar Researcher Profile slides.

Locate one's h Index in Scopus

Locate one's H Index in Web of Science