Nieuws - 20 oktober 2010

H FACTOR blues

It's a great life: doing scientific research, writing up your findings and by so doing, sharing the knowledge and insights you have gained with others.

 It always has been, still is, and always will be. But times have changed. Where researchers used to be able to get on with their work without too many worries, now the scope and quality of their output is constantly being measured and assessed in all sorts of ways. Take the H factor, for example. I have been asked about mine more and more often recently. I usually reply that I don't know and that I'll get one of our secretaries to look it up. I could of course just think up a number. But then I would run the risk of coming up with a number that is either ridiculously low or immodestly high.
I looked it up on the internet. The Hirsch factor combines the number of articles in international journals with the number of citations. So if 17 of your articles have been cited 17 times, your H factor will be 17. So writing the most outstanding article ever will not give you more than one point, by my calculations.
Last week I was asked yet again about my H factor. I had no more information about it than the last time, except to report that my PUB score is the highest it's ever been at 672, while my NAT score is 27, if you include the deceased. PUB: The total number of published pages per year. NAT: number of co-authors who have ever been published in Nature. I suspect my interlocutor did some Googling and a few sums later that day.