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An updated h-index measures both the primary and total scientific output of a researcher

DISCOVERIES (ISSN 2359-7232), 2015, July-September


Bucur O et al. An updated h-index measures both the primary  and total scientific output of a researcher. Discoveries 2015, Jul-September; 3(3): e50. DOI: 10.15190/d.2015.42 

Submitted: September 21, 2015; Revised: September 30, 2015; Published: September 30, 2015; 

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An updated h-index measures both the primary and total scientific output of a researcher  

Octavian Bucur (1,*), Alex Almasan (2,*), Roman Zubarev (3), Mark Friedman (4), Garth L. Nicolson (5), Pavel Sumazin (6), Mircea Leabu (7), Barbara S. Nikolajczyk (8), Dorina Avram (9), Tanja Kunej (10), George A. Calin (11), Andrew K. Godwin (12), Hans-Olov Adami (13), Peter G. Zaphiropoulos (14), Des R. Richardson (15), Gerold Schmitt-Ulms (16), Håkan Westerblad (17), Megan Keniry (18), Georges E. R. Grau (19), Salvatore Carbonetto (20), Radu V. Stan (21), Aurel Popa-Wagner (22), Kasumov Takhar (23), Beverly W. Baron (24), Paul J. Galardy (25), Feng Yang (26), Dipak Data (27), Oluwole Fadare (28), KT Jerry Yeo (29), Georgiana R. Gabreanu (30), Stefan Andrei (31), Georgiana R. Soare (32), Mark A. Nelson (33), Elisa A. Liehn (34,*)

(1) Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA;
(2) Department of Cancer Biology, Lerner Research Institute & Department of Radiation Oncology, Taussig Cancer Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA;
(3) Department of Medical Biochemistry & Biophysics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden;
(4) Department of Pathology, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Beth Israel Medical Center and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA;
(5) Department of Molecular Pathology, The Institute for Molecular Medicine, Huntington Beach, CA, USA;
(6) Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA;
(7) Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila” and Victor Babes National Institute of Pathology, Bucharest, Romania;
(8) Department of Microbiology, Boston University School of Medicine Boston, MA, USA;
(9) Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA;
(10) Department of Genetics, Animal Biotechnology and Immunology, Domzale, Slovenia;
(11) Department of Experimental Therapeutics and Leukemia & Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNAs, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA;
(12) Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Kansas Cancer Center Kansas City, KS, USA;
(13) Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden;
(14) Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Sweden;
(15) Department of Pathology and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia;
(16) Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology, Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada;
(17) Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden;
(18) Biology Department, University of TEXAS Pan American, Edinburg, TX, USA;
(19) Department of Pathology, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia;
(20) Centre for Research in Neuroscience, McGill University Health Sciences Centre, Montreal, Canada;
(21) The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Dartmouth College, Lebanon, NH, USA; 
(22) Department of Psychiatry, Rostock University Medical School, Rostock, Germany;
(23) Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH, USA
(24) Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA; 
(25) Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Mayo Clinic Transplant Center, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MI, USA;
(26) Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA;
(27) Biochemistry Division, CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India;
(28) Department of Pathology, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA;
(29) Department of Pathology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA;
(30) “Victor Babes” National Institute of Pathology and Biomedical Sciences, Bucharest, Romania;
(31) Service de Médecine Interne, CNHO des Quinze-Vingts, Paris, France;
(32) Departament of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Bucharest University Emergency Hospital, Bucharest, Romania;
(33) Department of Pathology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA;
(34) Institute for Molecular Cardiovascular Research (IMCAR), RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany;


updated h-index, Hirsch index, h(p,t), h(p), h(t), primary scientific output


The growing interest in scientometry stems from ethical concerns related to the proper evaluation of scientific contributions of an author working in a hard science. In the absence of a consensus, institutions may use arbitrary methods for evaluating scientists for employment and promotion. There are several indices in use that attempt to establish the most appropriate and suggestive position of any scientist in the field he/she works in. A scientist’s Hirsch-index (h-index) quantifies their total effective published output, but h-index summarizes the total value of their published work without regard to their contribution to each publication. Consequently, articles where the author was a primary contributor carry the same weight as articles where the author played a minor role. Thus, we propose an updated h-index named Hirsch(p,t)-index that informs about both total scientific output and output where the author played a primary role. Our measure, h(p,t) = h(p),h(t), is composed of the h-index h(t) and the h-index calculated for articles where the author was a key contributor; i.e. first/shared first or senior or corresponding author. Thus, a h(p,t) = 5,10 would mean that the author has 5 articles as first, shared first, senior or corresponding author with at least 5 citations each, and 10 total articles with at least 10 citations each. This index can be applied in biomedical disciplines and in all areas where the first and last position on an article are the most important. Although other indexes, such as r- and w-indexes, were proposed for measuring the authors’ output based on the position of researchers within the published articles, our simpler strategy uses the already established algorithms for h-index calculation and may be more practical to implement.

*Correspondence to

Octavian Bucur, MD, PhD, Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA, 02215, USA. E-mail: obucur@bidmc.harvard.edu

Alexandru Almasan, PhD, Department of Cancer Biology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA. Tel: +1 216 444 9970; Fax: +1 216 445 6269; E-mail: almasaa@ccf.org

Elisa A. Liehn, MD, PhD, Institute for Molecular Cardiovascular Research (IMCAR), University Hospital Aachen, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Pauwelsstrasse 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany. Tel.: 0049-241-80 35983; Fax: 0049-241-80 82716; E-mail: eliehn@ukaachen.de 

Access full text of the manuscript here: 


1. Hirsch JE. An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Nov 15;102(46):16569-72.

2. Romanovsky AA. Revised h index for biomedical research. Cell Cycle. 2012 Nov 15;11(22):4118-21.

3. Zhang CT. A proposal for calculating weighted citations based on author rank. EMBO Rep. 2009 May;10(5):416-7

4. Sekercioglu CH. Quantifying coauthor contributions. Science. 2008 Oct 17;322(5900):371 

5. Saleem T. The Hirsch index - a play on numbers or a true appraisal of academic output? Int Arch Med. 2011 Jul 7;4:25

6. Carbon CC. The Carbon_h-factor: predicting individuals' research impact at early stages of their career. PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28770.

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