3.3.5 Years value seems impossible

It is advisable to check the “Years” to see whether it reflects common sense. Obviously, if the value is >100 for an author, something is wrong with the Google Scholar data. However, even finding values of >40 for authors should lead you to be suspicious, unless the academic is close to retirement. A very easy way to do so is to sort the data by year. This will allow you to easily spot the offending publications.

Outliers in publication years

As my last name (Harzing) is fairly unique and there are no other academics with the same last name that publish regularly, I often tend to conduct Publish or Perish searches with my last name only (see screenshot). However, this leads to a Years value of 39, which make me either feel very old or a genius who published at a very young age. Sorting by year easily allows me to spot the offending publications.

The first two publications are historical books by my late grandfather (Wim Harzing) about the city in which he lived. The third publication is the only publication ever by GP Harzing, who seems to have acted as a research assistant on a project on epidermal dystrophy. The fourth publication is a Masters thesis that I supervised. My name and those of the two other supervisors were accidentally added as authors. Hence sorting by year is also a very good way to separate your own publications from those of a namesake from an earlier generation.