Accuracy: Selective merge

Publish or Perish tutorial

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 later versions of Publish or Perish.

Selective merging in Publish or Perish saves time if you are only interested in the h-index.

Check publications that are "just out" of the h-index

This involves checking whether you have any publications that are close to becoming part of the h-index and verify whether any stray references can be found for those. These references can then be merged into their master record. I would normally recommend checking all publications within 5 citations of reaching the required number of citations to be included in the h-index.

Extended example of selective merge

Let’s work through an example of how this works. The screenshot below shows the publications in my “raw” citation record - back in 2009 - that might qualify for inclusion in the h-index. The Expatriate Failure article with Christensen is the last paper to be included in my then h-index of 23.


Duplicate paper without sub-title

The next paper [Response styles in cross-national survey research] has 21 citations, but there is a duplicate paper with an equal number of citations. The duplicate paper does not include the subtitle, but a quick verification of the citing articles shows that they are indeed different from those citing the paper with the subtitle. Hence this would be a prime candidate for merging, which increases the h-index to 24.

Merging doesn't always increase the h-index

The next paper [The interaction between language and culture] does have some stray citations (found by sorting the results by publication), but not enough to enter into the h-index. The Publish or Perish program has a fairly large number of stray citations with academics referring to different versions, and hence when merged becomes part of the h-index with 26 citations. However, as the original last paper included [Expatriate Failure:…] only has 24 citations, the h-index still remains at 24. Checking this paper, however, I also found some stray citations. Merging them into the master record results in an h-index of 25. The Journal quality list also has stray citations, but not enough to bring the total up to 26.

Merging duplicates can also decrease the h-index

However, in this process I also noticed that one my most-cited publications – the book Managing the Multinationals – actually appears twice. It appears once with a subtitle and 160 citations and once without a subtitle and 37 citations, thus contributing to the h-index twice. Obviously, these two titles need to be merged, bringing us back to an h-index of 24.

Selective merge only takes a few minutes

Although this whole process sounds fairly involved, with a little practice it can actually be done in a couple of minutes, whereas a full merge of stray citations can easily take 15-20 minutes. Hence selective merging might be a good compromise.

Generic lessons for selective merging

This process has also taught us two important generic lessons for selective merging:

  • Publications with subtitles can often appear twice, once with and once without the subtitle, so it is worthwhile to check them.
  • Your most highly cited publications might appear in the h-index twice if the number of stray citations is large enough to enter as a separate publication.

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PS: If you are using Publish or Perish on a regular basis, please take 5 minutes to provide me with some feedback.