I am an Computer Science undergraduate student and I am looking for my potential mentor for my PhD study. I guess besides research interest, personality etc., h-index is an important factor one should consider. So I wonder whether there is a way to find out about the precise h-index of an arbitral author.

I've been using Microsoft Academic Search. It's cool, it often finds the right person and gives you his/her h-index. However, I believe that this tool has underestimated the h-index of many researchers. (I think so because I've tried typing in some very famous professors' names and the h-index that Microsoft gives is about 10~20 lower than the actually value).

Moreover, since I am mostly interested in Human-Computer Interaction so I am also referring to ACM SIGCHI's Most Frequent Authors Page. The page is awesome: it gives you the most brilliant professors ranked by their number of publications. However, I think h-index is a better metric than the number of publications alone.

I could, of course, go to the professors' websites and read their publication list. But I want to know whether there is a better, more efficient way of finding h-index.

  • 14
    I totally disagree with your assessment that h-index is an important factor one should consider when choosing a supervisor. That said, it is irrelevant to your question about how to find the information.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 12, 2012 at 13:07
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    @CherryQu please ask a new question about how to find a good supervisor (have a search through past questions also). Also if you start your comment with an @ (as I did here), the person will get a notification.
    – StrongBad
    Dec 12, 2012 at 13:45
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    @CherryQu Things as h-indexes are accumulative, so older guys have it a lot higher (don't even compare people of different age with h-index!). Whereas, looking at friends, it seems to be the best idea to get a very young, energetic prof, just starting her/his career. There is more energy, fresher topics, (s)he is still hands-on in research and can have time for you, on daily basis (also, because then usually group isn't that large). But still, there is huge variance with respect to personality, topics etc. But they get low h-indices, since they are not cited yet and there are just starting. Dec 12, 2012 at 13:57
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    Not a real answer, but relevant: look also here: academia.stackexchange.com/questions/4793
    – walkmanyi
    Dec 12, 2012 at 20:32
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    when I was interviewed for my new post, I was asked for my h-indexDon't walk. Run.
    – JeffE
    Dec 13, 2012 at 15:37

4 Answers 4


the h-index is an interesting measure, but it changes all the times

  • microsoft search does it
  • Google author search does it (see an example here)
  • the freely available tool PoP does it

you could try and triangulate the numbers that you get and find the average, as a possible solution

  • Google author search is cool! I heard it's partially maintained by the researchers themselves! Thanks!
    – CherryQu
    Dec 12, 2012 at 13:21
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    The author profiles are maintained partly by the authors, but not the h-index search.
    – Suresh
    Dec 12, 2012 at 16:10
  • As a note, google author search only works if the author has opted-in to make their profile public. Apr 18, 2015 at 1:44
  • Microsoft does not document h-index anymore. academia.stackexchange.com/a/11436/28895
    – n1000
    Jun 5, 2021 at 10:45

There is no such thing as "the precise h-index".

The h-index is defined as the largest integer h such that at least h of the author's publications have at least h citations each. But what's a publication? Do first-author publications carry more weight? Do ArXiv, technical report, conference, and journal versions of the "same" paper (all of which may have citations) count as four papers or one? Or does it depend on the difference in content between versions? (How do you measure that difference?) Does the quality of the venue matter? If so, which venues count as "real" publications? Do survey articles count? Popular science articles? Blog posts? StackExchange questions?* Do self-citations count? If so, does a citation to a paper by X and Y, in a paper by Y and Z, count toward X's h-index? How much (and who) are you willing to pay to make sure you've really counted every citation to every publication?

The different sources of the h-index make different well-reasoned decisions about each of these issues, none of which make sense for ALL areas, even within computer science.

I think h-index is a better metric than the number of publications alone.

This is a pretty low standard. You can do better.

*At least one of my StackExchange questions has more citations than at least one of my papers.

  • 1
    interesting questions Jeff.. How much (and who) are you willing to pay to make sure you've really counted every citation to every publication? That's the big question. Shocked by the SE citation; what is the objective of citing a SE question?
    – seteropere
    Dec 13, 2012 at 5:20
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    what is the objective of citing a SE question? — The same as the objective of citing anything else: Giving the author credit for their ideas. Why does it matter whether the idea was formally published?
    – JeffE
    Dec 13, 2012 at 5:49
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    I have cited a MathOverflow discussion in one of my preprints. I asked for the solution of a small problem there and I got an answer; this was the only way I had to give credit. Dec 13, 2012 at 8:42
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    It's not a "tricky problem"; it's impossible even in principle to automate evaluation of research quality.
    – JeffE
    Dec 14, 2012 at 1:59
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    @JeffE: although I agree that it's not possible to evaluate the absolute quality of research, it's being done already, by many institutions, that you like it or not... Any research project is evaluated on "quality", on various factors (the infamous "impact"...?) and on a scale between 1 to 5. Papers quality has started being evaluated on the number of citations; researchers will be evaluated on their h-indexes (or similar...). In my view it's an inevitable process, due also to the current collapse of the university system and traditional "approach"
    – ElCid
    Dec 14, 2012 at 10:41

h-index is not an important factor to consider potential supervisors rather recent projects and publications count more for me. Also, h-index might misguide you (it has its limitations).
For example, if a new professor published 10 articles each cited at least 200 times the h-index will be only 10 ! .. Also, old researchers have advantage over young ones.

Returning to the question:

So I wonder whether there is a way to find out about the precise h-index of an arbitral author

I am not aware of any engine/program gives a precise h-index. There is no precise h-index out there and finding a mechanism to find it is an interesting work..


I believe for the UK's upcoming 2014 REF exercise the bibliometrics are based on the Scopus database (http://www.ref.ac.uk/background/bibliometrics/). This likely has to do with both Elsevier political power and the quality of the database.

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