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TIS Report 014

Report Title: The H-IF index
Category: Bibliometric Analysis

Key Words: Bibliometric analysis, H-index, Impact Factor, ANVUR, concorsi
Author: Mauro Degli Esposti, Luca Boscolo, Antonio Filippone, and Lucio Piccirillo
Affiliation: Via-academy
Date: 30 June 2011


The index of Hirsch, or H-index, is now an established parameter to evaluate the calibre and impact of scientists and scholars. Since its introduction, a number of variants have been proposed to correct various perceived problems of the index. Two of these problems have constantly emerged during the development of our initiative of the Top Italian Scientists (TIS): 1) the index automatically increases with age and seniority, independently of the recent production of a person - consequently penalizing young brilliant scientists; 2) the value of the index depends upon the scientific field, because it reflects the citation metrics which varies considerably in fields as diverse as cancer and engineering. Recently, Giovanbattista Ianni has introduced a new parameter [1], the H-index normalized for the age of publications, or H-normage. The H-normage is a re-calculation of the H-index in which the citations of each paper are normalized by the number of years since that paper has been published. The number obtained thus contains the equivalent Impact Factor (IF) of the papers produced by a person, since the IF corresponds to the number of citations that a given paper receives each year. Here we introduce a novel index, the H-IF index, that corrects the value of H-normage for the different citation metrics existing in different fields of science by using a field-specific value, the IF field. The IF field is an integer that is closest to the average IF value for the top experimental journals in a specific area of science, e.g. 10 for biomedical sciences, 6 for astrophysics and 3 for engineering (Table 1). When the H-normage value exceeds the IF field number of the area in which the person publishes, then the H-IF index is calculated with the following formula:  H-IF = H-normage + (H-normage - IF field). The H-IF can thus be defined as the number of papers that a person has published in top journals of the scientific area in which s/he works. Table 1 collects a selection of values obtained from various persons who are prominent in three scientific areas and belong to the TIS list - but are also outside it. Interestingly, members of the Via-academy having comparable academic positions in UK set the benchmark value for their specific fields. Moreover, it seems that the H-IF index can eliminate the quantitative distortions that the classical H-index usually produces with regard to age and field diversity, without complex calculations. Further elaboration now includes prominent persons in the area of Business and Economics (Table 2). The full article will incorporate the inputs of interested scientists, within and outside the Via-academy.

[1] G. Ianni. Scholar H-Index Calculator: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/scholar-h-index-calculator/  (last retrieved Jun 26th, 2011).

Table 1 - Selection of H-IF values for scientists working in Biomedicine, Astrophysics and Engineering. The names have been taken from the current TIS list [http://www.topitalianscientists.org/Top_italian_scientists_VIA-Academy.aspx] or suggested by experts in various fields. The scientific fields are defined also by the nomenclature of CUN (Italian University Committee - number in brackets) and sub-areas are also indicated, when known, using the key words of the TIS list. The values of H-index and H-normage have been obtained with the current version of the Scholar-H-calculator using Google Scholar database [1] - note that the values of H-index (first column) may be slightly different from those in the online TIS list, especially for Biomedicine scientists. The values of H-IF have been obtained manually using the H-normage data and the IF field values specified under each field. No more than 3 persons are listed for each numerical value of the H-IF index. For a statistical analysis of the distribution of H-normage and H-IF values in a large sector of Italian academia (pharmacology), see the updated TIS Report 011.

Table 2 - Preliminary results of H-IF evaluation of top Italian economists. The results include most Top Italian Scientists in the field of Business and Economics  (Area 13 CUN) and a selection of other prominent persons in the same area, including colleagues of the Via-academy.org. The IF field value used for these calculations is = 4.

Why is it important?
It normalizes the classical H-index for age and field, without complex calculations.

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