You're so vain ... you probably want to look at your h-index

Lorcan 2 min read

And speaking of Elsevier, several colleagues and I received an email invitation from “the Scopus team” to look at our h-index [Wikipedia entry] on our very own Scopus profile page. Here is some of the text from the invitation:

The h-index * can help you evaluate and benchmark your research output and that of your peers. It provides an indication of the quality and the consistency of the researcher’s work by looking at the number of articles published and the number of citations received over time. In Scopus the h-index presents a metric that takes all of an author’s articles published between 1996 to present into account and thus provides a transparent mean to evaluate the impact of an author in the most recent 12 years. You will also find quick links to your publications, citation counts and co-authors.

I am sure that this has gone to many readers of this blog also.
A very superficial examination shows that Scopus provides some useful approaches for merging and demerging result sets based on knowledge provided by the searcher. It pulls together a lot of contextual data in its profiles, based on mining of article details. I found it useful. I have not looked at Web of Knowledge recently so I do not know how it compares.
Four overlapping things struck me about this invitation and the service:

  1. Reputation management. The direct appeal in the invitation is to the author’s interest in his or her research impact or reputation. Reputation management is of growing interest, for individuals and for institutions. I think that this creates an interesting intersection between research support/administration services and library/information services around such things as the relationship between institutional repositories and the recording of faculty publications, consistent naming of authors and institutions so as not to fragment impact through incorrect pulling together of publications, faculty expertise databases, citation management, and so on. The interaction between personal disclosure (what I put on my website, or social networking sites, or …), institutional management, and third party data aggregation/manipulation will also be interesting to watch.
  2. Making data work harder. The SCOPUS profiles are based on extensive mining and manipulation of data to create the context on their pages (affiliations, citations, cited by, h-index, etc). Increasingly, in many cases, we will expect to see such further analysis to create context and depth. Think of what we see in a Google Book Search page, an Amazon results page, a Worldcat Identities page.
  3. Socialising Knowledge networks. The academic literature and the tools we have created to organize it reveal networks of knowledge. Citations, subject indexing, cross-reference structures, and so on, create connections between people, documents, ideas, institutions. Increasingly, we can mobilize these connections in digital environments, and make other connections. Alongside these ‘classical’ networks, we are seeing newer social networks emerge. One of the more interesting developments we will see will be the integration of our classically created networks and these new social networks. I was interested to see for example discussions around user-driven name disambiguation at Crossref. SCOPUS offers you the opportunity to submit feedback on a profile: presumably this will develop over time to allow greater interaction between those doing the profiling, based on available data, and those profiled, based on their knowledge.
  4. We know where you live. Related to the last point, I was interested, and quite impressed, that they could send me an email pointing me to my profile page and that it all worked out. I do not have a very common name; I wonder what criteria they had in place before they would send you an email, and how many of them went astray. It is also interesting to see a publisher of a bibliographic tool reach out to users/authors in this way, with an incentive for them to get interested in a particular product. It potentially creates an interesting dynamic for the library.

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