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TIS Report 010

Report Title: Top Italians per Area
Category: Bibliometric Analysis

Key Words: bibliometric analysis, research evaluation, citation metrics, concorsi
Author: ‘Valutator’ committee
Affiliation: Via-academy
Date: 18 March 2011

Following our previous analysis of the ranking of Italian institutes on the basis of their cumulative scientific impact, we have been criticized that our results were incomplete and could not account for the known field-specific differences in the citation metrics. To address these criticisms, we have undertaken a systematic search of all Italian academics who are listed in the ministerial website (MIUR) and analysed their h-index within the over 300 scientific sectors (SSD) in which they are formally divided. After completion of the 'crude' screening, which was run over the entire database of Google Scholar using the full "name surname" search, we have progressively refined our analysis by consultation with Italian colleagues and evaluating in detail the academics listed with double names (e.g. Carlo Alfonso) or  very common surnames (e.g. Rossi, Bianchi, Ferrari, etc.). These persons produced several incorrect estimates, particularly in sectors of humanities. Here we report the quantitative features of selected SSD sectors that show the highest average and median values of h-index for the areas of Medicine and Biology, in particular (Figure 1). The concept of the median has now gained wide interest in Italy for it has been indicated as a major criterion for evaluating individual academics for concorsi (see TIS Report 011). Although field-specific differences seem to disappear above the threshold used to define Top Italian Scientists (TIS, Figure 1), inherent differences in citation metrics clearly remain among fields, which can now be accounted for using the H-IF index (see TIS Report 014). In its initial form, the article for this TIS Report will provide preliminary data which enable useful estimations of the threshold values for the median of H-index of Associated professors and Ricercatori in most scientific sectors.

Figure 1 Legend
The individual h-index of all the TIS persons in the SSD of MED/03 (Medical Genetics) and BIO/10 (Biochemistry & Biophysics) are plotted as intervals with 95% confidence. No statistically significant difference is detected with multiple tests  like ANOVA and Mann-Whitney. However, if the entire set of academics of the same SSD's are compared, there is a strong and statistically significant difference in favour of Medical Genetics (see Table 1 new).

Why is it important?
We report the first systematic analysis of the h-index for an entire nation, Italy, according to the scientific sectors in which academics are divided. It also provides a rule-of-the-thumb for estimating key evaluation parameters relevant to academic promotion.

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