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Research Impact Toolkit: Media & Communication

Information, tools, and suggestions for documenting the significance of scholarly accomplishments in the field(s) of Media & Communication studies.

What is Researcher Impact?

scholar head vectorResearcher impact is a measure of author productivity and impact over time. Currently, the most common measure used is the h-index which measures the impact of a particular researcher rather than a journal. The h-index is based on number of citations per publication and the total number of publications. For example, to have an h-index of 5, five of a scholar’s publications must have been cited by others at least five times each.

While more sophisticated than plain citation counts, the h-index has caveats, of course, and it's best to use this measure in context, comparing scholars with their peers, and using other metrics as well.

Tools for Determining H-index

create citation report link exampleWeb of Science H-index result

h-index bar chart example

How to Calculate H-index

h-index graphTo calculate your h-index, list your papers based on the number of their citations, from most to least. The number of citations for each paper must be equal to or greater than its rank in order to be counted. Thus, if your first paper has at least one citation, your h index is at least one. If your second paper has at least two citations, your h-index is at least two, and so on. If you have papers A, B, C, D, and E, with 68, 12, 10, 3, and 2, respectively, your h-index is 3, because paper D (your fourth paper) must have more than four citations to be counted.

H-index Caveats

  • What constitutes a "high" h-index varies by discipline (physicists have higher h-indexes than librarians, generally).
  • People who have many co-authors will have a higher h-index than those who author more solo papers.
  • H-index calculating tools, like Web of Science and Google Scholar, will estimate someone's h-index differently from one another because they're relying on different sources (e.g. Web of Science's database is smaller and more academic than Google Scholar's).
  • The h-index is dependent on a researcher's "academic age." Someone who has been publishing longer will have a higher h-index relative to a newer researcher.
  • Manually calculating an h-index will likely result in a different number than automated h-indexes. It's always best to use the h-index in context, comparing scholars with their peers, and using other metrics as well.

Content courtesy of Oregon State University Library's Research Metrics guide.