Stating your case: Pick metrics wisely

Note: This tutorial was originally written for Publish or Perish version 4 and all screenshots come from this version. However, the information as such is also applicable for the latest Publish or Perish version 5.

Publish or Perish provides you with a very wide range of metrics. If your university prescribes the metrics you need to use, you have little choice. However, in many cases there is more flexibility. So what metrics do you pick?

Worked example

The screenshot below shows a summary of my own citation record. Fortunately, my h-index and g-index are relatively high in comparison to other academics in my field, so it is relatively easy for me to make my case.

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However, if I had the choice and was applying for a professorial position, I would probably point to the fact that my contemporary h-index and my individual h-index are relatively high in comparison to my regular h-index. I would also point out a relatively high hI,annual. This would allow me to make the case that:

  • Much of my work is recent. Hence my productivity has not (yet) declined and I am likely to continue making a strong contribution to the field. Academics who have published most of their impactful work long ago will have a low contemporary h-index, even though their regular h-index might be fairly high.
  • My most-cited work is single-authored. Thus it is easy to substantiate that I have made a significant intellectual contribution. It also shows that my citation record is not inflated by citations from co-authors and their networks. Academics who publish mostly co-authored work will have lower individual h-indices.
  • I have made a sustained contribution, reflected in my relatively high hI,annual, i.e. on average I have published nearly 2 single-authored equivalent impactful articles every year in the last 20 years.

Early to mid-career academics

Most academics going up for tenure or promotion will benefit from using the contemporary h-index when comparing themselves with current job incumbents, as most of their published work will be relatively recent. Whether it is beneficial for you to use the individual h-index depends on your number of highly-cited single-authored articles. Publish or Perish provides three implementations of the individual h-index (hI-index, hI,norm and hm-index), so feel free to pick the one that shows of your case to its best advantage!

hI,annual might be particularly useful

The hI,annual can be particularly useful if you are an early or mid-career academic as this metric is often relatively high at this career stage. Using the hIa allows you to compare yourself against more senior academics on an equal footing. Of course, you do need to inspire confidence that you will be able to sustain this level of performance. It is not easy to keep publishing new impactful articles every year!

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