Journal article

The stability of the h-index

Over the last years the h-index has gained popularity as a measure for comparing the impact of scientists. We investigate if ranking according to the h-index is stable with respect to (i) different choices of citation databases, (ii) normalizing citation counts by the number of authors or by removing self-citations, (iii) small amounts of noise created by randomly removing citations or publications and (iv) small changes in the definition of the index. In experiments for 5,283 computer scientists and 1,354 physicists we show that although the ranking of the h-index is stable under most of these changes, it is unstable when different databases are used. Therefore, comparisons based on the h-index should only be trusted when the rankings of multiple citation databases agree.


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