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The H-index paradox: your coauthors have a higher H-index than you do

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One interesting phenomenon that emerges from the typical structure of social networks is the friendship paradox. It states that your friends have on average more friends than you do. Recent efforts have explored variations of it, with numerous implications for the dynamics of social networks. However, the friendship paradox and its variations consider only the topological structure of the networks and neglect many other characteristics that are correlated with node degree. In this article, we take the case of scientific collaborations to investigate whether a similar paradox also arises in terms of a researcher’s scientific productivity as measured by her H-index. The H-index is a widely used metric in academia to capture both the quality and the quantity of a researcher’s scientific output. It is likely that a researcher may use her coauthors’ H-indexes as a way to infer whether her own H-index is adequate in her research area. Nevertheless, in this article, we show that the average H-index of a researcher’s coauthors is usually higher than her own H-index. We present empirical evidence of this paradox and discuss some of its potential consequences.

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This research was partially funded by InWeb—The Brazilian National Institute of Science and Technology for the Web (MCT/CNPq/FAPEMIG Grant 573871/2008-6), and by the authors’ individual grants from CAPES, CNPq and FAPEMIG.

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Correspondence to Alberto H. F. Laender.

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Benevenuto, F., Laender, A.H.F. & Alves, B.L. The H-index paradox: your coauthors have a higher H-index than you do. Scientometrics 106, 469–474 (2016).

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