Research Impact Challenge

This guide contains 10 activities for researchers to better understand and manage their online scholarly presence, as well as the impact and reach of their research.

Day 8: The h-index (and other citation-based measures of impact)

Welcome to Day 8 of the University Libraries Research Impact Challenge!

Yesterday we used The Metrics Toolkit to explore a wide range of approaches to talking about scholarly impact. Today we narrow our focus to indexes of scholarly research and how they can be used to analyze citation data and calculate quantitative measures of research impact. 

Let’s get started!


The University Libraries Research Impact Measures page provides an introduction and context for citation-based research impact metrics. It has links to subpages that cover:

Today's challenge: the h-index

Today’s challenge focuses on on just one metric, the h-index. Created in 2005 by physicist Jorge Hirsch, the h-index is a commonly used metric that is a measure of both the productivity and the impact of an individual author. A scholar has an index of h when they have published h papers, each of which has been cited at least h times. (Sugimoto pp. 100-101, 2018).


Find your h-index:

Follow the instructions below to locate an h-index for the same author in Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. If your publications have been indexed in all three places, we recommend that you search for your own name. If not, search for a scholar whose work you have used in your research. Here's how to do it: 


  1. Click Scopus above
  2. Above the search box, click on the Authors dot, and type the author's name into the search box
  3. Click on the desired author name
  4. See h-index box toward the right side of author profile page
  5. In the Documents by author box, click the Analyze Author Output link for additional citation data

Web of Science

  1. Click Web of Science above
  2. In the search box, type in the author's name, select Author from the dropdown menu, and click Search
  3. Perform author search, then click Create Citation Report near the top right of the results page

Google Scholar

  1. Click Google Scholar above
  2. If you are searching for yourself, you can simply navigate directly to the Google Scholar profile you created last week. Your h-index will appear in the box on the right-hand side of the screen.
  3. If you are searching for a different author, in the main search box, enter author's name or search by article title. In the search results page, click on the author's name to view their Google Scholar profile (your chosen author will need to have a public Google Scholar profile in order for you to view their Google Scholar h-index).

Reflect on what you find: 

  • Does the h-index stay the same or vary across these databases? If the score changes, can you figure out why?

  • What strengths do you see in the h-index as a measure of productivity and impact? What limitations do you see?
  • If asked to provide an h-index as part of an evaluation process, how would you proceed?

Key Takeaways: 

  • The h-index always depends upon the data source from which it was calculated. When reporting an h-index, you will always want to indicate the data source.

  • The Google Scholar h-index will often be higher than the h-index from other sources. This is because Google Scholar is more inclusive than Scopus and Web of Science, indexing many more types of material than peer-reviewed research articles. 

  • The h-index inherently favors scholars with longer careers, who have had the time both to publish more work and to accrue more citations.

  • The h-index will not adequately represent the work of scholars whose publications are not all indexed in the data source being used. 

What next? 

  • Explore further in University Libraries Research Impact Measures page for an overview of other research impact metrics, as well as broader context for research impact evaluation (including a sneak preview of altmetrics, tomorrow’s topic).

  • Faculty engage in many types of scholarly work, which vary greatly by discipline, role, and individual — demonstrating the impact of your scholarly work will mean something different for everyone. This Impact in Promotion and Tenure Materials handout summarizes some common ways researchers demonstrate impact, but this is a very broad list that attempts to cover many disciplines and not every measure will make sense for you. 

  • For a quick, at-a-glance reference, this poster from Elsevier Library Connect provides a user-friendly overview of key research impact measures.

Learn more: 

Prepare for the next challenge: 

Congratulations! You've completed Day 8 of the Research Impact Challenge!  Tomorrow we'll explore the emerging field of altmetrics, including tools you can use to keep up-to-date on when your work is mentioned on the web, in the media, in a syllabus, in policy, and more! 


This material has been adapted from the University of Michigan research impact challenge LibGuide created by Rebecca Welzenback, January 15 2019 and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. 

Last Updated: Apr 25, 2023 11:21 AM