Research Impact Guide

This guide serves as a starting point to understand, gather, and communicate indicators of research impact.


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Erin Owens
Pronouns: she/her/hers
ORCID: 0000-0001-9520-9314
NGL 223D

What is H-Index?

What It Is

  • A citation-based metric that attempts to measure the influence of an individual researcher (or group of researchers, such as an institution) by considering both productivity (quantity) and impact.
  • Represents the point at which a scholar has h publications with h citations each. If a scholar has published 10 articles with at least 10 citations each, his h-index is 10.


  • Improvement over total count of publications (which may have no impact) and total count of citations (which may be skewed by one item with significant impact).
  • May prove particularly informative when used to compare peers in a discipline with a similar number of years in the field.

Disadvantages / Warnings

  • Should only be compared within a discipline but not between disciplines, since publishing and citing patterns vary among fields.
  • The length of time in a field impacts h-index, and it thus favors senior researchers and disadvantages early career researchers.

Where to Get It

  • Freely available from Google Scholar at for researchers with a Google Scholar Citations page.
  • Can be obtained from commercial tools such as the Web of Science database (Thomson Reuters), provided by the SHSU library.
  • Can be calculated with the free Harzing's Publish or Perish program, or the Scholarometer browser extension, both of which use Google Scholar data.
  • Here is an example of citation counts and an h-index score from a researcher's Google Scholar Citations page:

Researcher metrics in Google Scholar


There is professional debate over h-index as a metric. Understand its pros and cons before deciding whether and to what extent to use it. 

The following article, although targeted at librarians, may provide any researcher with a foundational understanding of this debate. 

Possible Alternatives to H-index (but with their own weaknesses)


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