I'm finishing my PhD and looking for postdoc jobs. I've published a decent number of papers (and also have a fair number of citations), and want to emphasize this on my CV.

Should I actually state my h-index on my CV? If so, is Google Scholar the easiest/best way to compute this?

2014.03.12 EDIT: Thanks for the advice. I had originally planned to put my h-index at the head of my list of publications (as a clickable link to my Google Scholar profile).

Based on the advice from many of you I will just omit this altogether for now. My scholar profile is easy to find (for potential PIs who care about such metrics), and not explicitly stating my h-index myself avoids any negative connotations among those who object to the h-index or calculating it via Google Scholar (e.g. Google includes self-citations, arXiv/non peer-reviewed papers etc).


5 Answers 5


A range of statistics can be useful in providing a quick snapshot of your research productivity. Common statistics include: number of refereed journal publications; number of publications that meet a criteria such as you being first author or the journal being above a certain impact factor or on a discipline specific list of quality journals; h-index; total amount of grant funding; etc. These would supplement a complete list of your publications.

With regards to h-index, Google Scholar will give you the largest value and its arguably the implied database when a h-index is provided without qualification.

I know that some people on this site object to the bureaucratic reductionism that can result from using measures like h-indices, impact factors and the like. Nonetheless, just because they are imperfect, does not prevent them from being useful. Such measures should not replace actually reading your work to assess its quality, but they can be useful in getting a rough handle on the impact and status of your research.

In terms of anecdotes, I have read several promotion applications that have successfully incorporated a range of such summary statistics to make the case for promotion. h-index, total grant funding, total publications, average teaching scores are all evidence, albeit imperfect that decision makers who are often outside your area will use to decide how to allocate resources like jobs, promotions, etc.


I would say no for two main reasons. The first one is the h-index will change rapidly with time, particularly for new graduated PhD students with only few years of publication history. The second one is that the h-index provides only a little information, the only possible values are likely 3,4 and 5 which can be increased with some luck.

I have read only few dozens of CV of PhD, but none of them really put down their h-index. Probably, a better way is to highlight the most important papers that you think which can represent you research interest and your contribution. It might be better to provide a clickable link to your Google Scholar profile in application email rather than in CV.

As for the h-index, Google Scholar indeed provides an easiest way to obtain it. However, I have some doubt on it as it also counts those citation from unrefereed papers, such as those in arXiv, and even worst, publications from some journal articles that can be written by anyone. It seems to me there are ways to play with the system, in particular, for small number of citation. But I think that it is somehow representative.

  • 7
    "the only possible values are likely 3,4 and 5" [citation needed]
    – xLeitix
    Mar 10, 2014 at 9:07
  • 10
    @xLeitix Would you mind to share the link to a real example? No offence. h-index = 18 means that there are 18 publications with at least 18 citation. By the nature of power law distribution, it usually means there are 36+ publication. Suppose a 5 year PhD student, it means 7+ publications per year, and each of them attracts average 3+ citation per year. It is not counting the papers in the last year must attract 18 citations in only one year. It is possible, but not with all 7 papers. I do see a PhD with 8 h-index, but this exception is only because of the collaborations with many people.
    – unsym
    Mar 10, 2014 at 9:42
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    @hwlau but if you look at enough examples you are likely to find an occurrence of the extreme (18 papers with exactly 171 citations). That said, 18 papers as a PhD student is still an outlier for most fields.
    – StrongBad
    Mar 10, 2014 at 11:14
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    @hwlau Don't nail me to 18 concretely, but a colleague and mentor of mine who is now manager at IBM Research certainly graduated with 16 or more on Google Scholar (he is now up to 24 scholar.google.com.sg/…). I myself graduated with 13 or 14, iirc. I am aware that this is a pecularity of my field, but I still think that the above statement is simply invalid.
    – xLeitix
    Mar 10, 2014 at 11:39
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    @StrongBad In my field, 18 papers (including ones that are not first-authored, of course) is not an exception at all. Getting all those (partially really weak / minor) publications cited is more uncommon of course. To be honest, in my field, a high h-index mostly shows that a candidate knows "how to play the game" and is well-connected in the field, which may be a positive factor for many committees in its own.
    – xLeitix
    Mar 10, 2014 at 11:43

I am not anywhere near the point where I'll be reviewing CVs, but people I know who do so tell me that whenever a CV lists things like h-index, number of citations for each paper, journal impact factors, aso, the general feeling is that the person is either a) a show-off or b) trying to hide actual content or merit behind impressive metrics. That's also the impression I get. Remember that the people who are going to read your CV know the field: what is relevant, what the good journals are, what it means to have those citations, and whether or not you are trying to boost your achievements. Also, as others have mentioned, metrics are ever-changing, data-base dependent and very easy to find by whatever means the reviewer deems appropriate. So I think your decision is the wisest.

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    "the people who are going to read your CV know the field" not necessarily... I was told by my university to put impact factors of journals I'd published in on a grant application, once. Jun 21, 2016 at 3:40

Better is to put list of your academic results and publications into your CV. Good index values are fine and could be included, but put your results first. Value of index tells something about popularity of your publication, but nothing about subject matter, which is most important in CV.


Since citation counts and H-index change over time (even for a fixed set of publications) it is probably best to omit this information from your CV and instead report it in the "response to selection criteria" for relevant positions you apply for. Academic jobs usually require some evidence of a research track record (or research potential at lower levels), so you can respond by reporting information on present citations and H-index. You should also bear in mind that it is usually simple for the selection panel to look you up in a citation database and get an updated report of these metrics in real-time. For all these reasons, the CV is not a great place for this information.

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