, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 1815–1833 | Cite as

Do Hirsch-type indices behave the same in assessing single publications? An empirical study of 29 bibliometric indicators

  • Zhenbin Yan
  • Qiang Wu
  • Xingchen Li


The h-index, introduced by Hirsch in 2005, was used by Schubert in 2009 to assess single publications. In 2011, Bornmann, Schier, Marx, and Daniel confirmed that the h-index is effective when assessing papers in chemistry. Quite a few Hirsch-type indices originate from the h-index. Can these Hirsch-type indices also be effectively used for assessing single publications? Will they behave the same or differently? In this study, the research objects were 26 kinds of Hirsch-type indices (including the original h-index) and three traditional methods, a total of 29 indicators. Based on the original definitions of these indicators and our new explanations of generations (i.e. mixed, pure, and non-pure generations of citations), we defined/redefined 29 paper-level metrics, calculated their values to assess publications, considered the correlations between those indices and the h-index or Wu’s w-index, and did factor analysis to contrast effectiveness. It was found that a few Hirsch-type indices (i.e. the f-index, rational h-index, real h-index, j-index, hg-index, Woeginger’s w-index, and tapered h-index) are highly correlated with the h-index but not close to Wu’s w-index, while some other indices (i.e. the a-index, h(5,2)-index, q2-index, r-index, maxprod, e-index, p-index, and weighted h-index) have relatively low correlations with the h-index but are close to Wu’s w-index. The normalized h-index and ph-ratio are obviously different from the other indices, and in most cases, their correlation coefficients with the h-index or Wu’s w-index are statistically non-significant (p > .05) or negative significant (p < .01). We argue that indices which are neither too near to nor too far from the h-index could be much more promising than others.


Hirsch-type indices Single publication H-index Paper-level metrics Reference networks Citation analysis 



The authors would like to acknowledge the helpful comments of the anonymous reviewer. This research was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 71273250 and 70973117).


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina

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