hIa: an individual annual h-index to accommodate disciplinary and career length differences
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Hirsch’s h-index cannot be used to compare academics that work in different disciplines or are at different career stages. Therefore, a metric that corrects for these differences would provide information that the h-index and its many current refinements cannot deliver. This article introduces such a metric, namely the hI,annual (or hIa for short). The hIa-index represents the average annual increase in the individual h-index. Using a sample of 146 academics working in five major disciplines and representing a wide variety of career lengths, we demonstrate that this metric attenuates h-index differences attributable to disciplinary background and career length. It is also easy to calculate with readily available data from all major bibliometric databases, such as Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge, Scopus and Google Scholar. Finally, as the metric represents the average number of single-author-equivalent “impactful” articles that an academic has published per year, it also allows an intuitive interpretation. Although just like any other metric, the hIa-index should never be used as the sole criterion to evaluate academics, we argue that it provides a more reliable comparison between academics than currently available metrics.
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