What Is Good H-Index? H-Index Required For An Academic Position

In the academic world, the h-index score stands as a pivotal metric, gauging the impact and breadth of a researcher’s work. Understanding what constitutes a good h-index is crucial for academics at all stages, from budding PhD students to seasoned professors.

This article looks into the h-index, exploring what scores are considered impressive across various disciplines and career stages.

Academic PositionTypical H-Index Range
PhD Student1 – 5
Postdoc5 – 20
Assistant Professor5 – 20
Associate Professor20+
Full Professor30+

  • PhD Student: An h-index between 1 and 5 is typical for PhD students nearing the end of their program, reflecting their early stage in academic publishing.
  • Postdoc and Assistant Professor: Early career researchers like postdoctoral fellows or assistant professors often find an h-index around 5 to 10 impressive, indicating a solid start in their respective fields.
  • Associate Professor: At this more advanced stage, an h-index of 10 or more is generally expected, reflecting a consistent record of impactful research.
  • Full Professor: For full professors, an h-index of 15 or higher is often seen, indicating a long and impactful career in research and academia.

How To Calculate Your H-Index Score?

In the academic world, the h-index score is a critical metric, essentially acting like a report card for scholars.

The h-index is a measure of a researcher’s productivity and impact. H-index was designed to assess the number of papers published and the number of citations each paper receives. 

Now that you know what is a h-index score, you may now wonder if you can find out your own. Good thing is that platforms like Google Scholar or Web of Science can come in handy.

They track your number of publications and the number of times those publications are cited, crunching these numbers into your h-index.

This number can vary based on the field and years of research experience. A full professor might be expected to have a higher h-index, reflecting more years of impactful research.

Google Scholar

To find out your h-index score from Google Scholar, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Create a Google Scholar Profile: If you don’t already have one, go to Google Scholar and create a profile. Fill in your academic details and affiliations.
  2. Add Publications: Ensure all your research publications are listed in your profile. You can add them manually or import them if they are already available on Google Scholar.
  3. Verify your Publications: Make sure the publications listed are indeed yours, as sometimes publications from other authors with similar names might appear.
  4. Check the Citations Section: Once your profile is complete and updated, look for the ‘Citations’ section on your profile page. This is usually located at the top and easy to spot.
  5. Find Your H-Index: In the Citations section, you will see your h-index listed among other citation metrics like the total number of citations and the i10-index.

Web Of Science

To find out your h-index score from Web Of Science, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Access Web of Science: Go to the Web of Science website. Access may require an institutional login, depending on your affiliation.
  2. Search for Your Name: Use the author search function to find your publications. Ensure you search with variations of your name if you’ve published under different names or initials.
  3. Create a Citation Report: Once your publications are listed, select them and create a citation report. This option is typically found above the list of your publications.
  4. View Your H-Index: In the citation report, your h-index will be displayed. This number is calculated based on the total number of papers you’ve published and the number of citations each paper has received.

What H-Index Is Considered Good For A PhD Student?

For a PhD student, the world of academic metrics can be daunting, especially when it comes to the h-index, a measure that intertwines the number of publications with their citation impact.

So, what h-index score should you, as a PhD student, aim for?

A “good” h-index can vary based on your field of study and the stage of your PhD program.

Generally, for PhD students, a lower h-index is expected and completely normal. You’re just beginning your journey in academic publishing.

An h-index between 1 and 5 might be typical for students nearing the end of their PhD. This means you have 1 to 5 publications that have been cited at least 1 to 5 times, respectively.

Your h-index can be calculated using tools like Google Scholar or Web of Science. These platforms track your published papers and the number of citations each receives.

As a PhD student, your focus should be on publishing quality research in reputable journals, as this will gradually increase your h-index.

Remember, while a higher h-index is beneficial for future academic positions, it’s not the only metric that matters. Your research’s quality, relevance, and impact in your field are equally important. A single highly influential paper might open more doors than several less impactful ones.

What Are Good H-Index Required For An Academic Position?

your h-index can be as crucial as your research itself. This metric, a blend of productivity and impact, is often scrutinized by hiring committees.

But what number should you aim for? A good h-index varies by field and career stage.

PostDoc, Assistant Professors

For early career researchers, like postdoctoral fellows or assistant professors, an h-index around 5 to 10 is often impressive.

It shows you’ve made a mark in your field, with a number of papers that have been cited at least that many times. 

Associate Professor, Full Professor

In more senior roles, such as a tenured associate professor or full professor, expectations rise.

Here, an h-index of 10 or 15 might be the minimum, with higher numbers not uncommon.

This single number, while important, doesn’t tell the whole story. A young researcher might have a lower h-index simply due to less time in the field. Moreover, some fields tend to have higher citation rates, which can inflate h-index scores.

It’s wise to keep an eye on your h-index, especially if you’re eyeing:

  • Competitive academic positions,
  • Research funding
  • Collaboration opportunities.

Improving your h-index involves not just publishing papers, but ensuring they are of high quality and relevance, increasing the likelihood of citations.

In sum, a good h-index is one that matches your career stage and field, reflecting both the quantity and impact of your work. However, it’s not the sole measure of your worth as a researcher.

The breadth and depth of your contributions, beyond just citation counts, also paint a vivid picture of your academic and scientific impact.

What Metric Influences H-Index Score?

Your h-index score is influenced by several key factors:

  1. Number of Publications: The more papers you publish, the greater the potential for citations. It’s a numbers game, but quality over quantity should be your mantra. High-caliber papers in respected journals often garner more attention and citations.
  2. Citations Per Publication: Your h-index heavily relies on how often your papers are cited. Even if you have a plethora of publications, your h-index won’t shine if they’re seldom cited.
  3. Years of Research Experience: A young researcher might have a lower h-index compared to a full professor, who has had more time to build their citation record.
  4. Research Field: The h-index varies widely across disciplines. Fields with rapid publication and citation rates like biomedical sciences often see higher h-index scores than, say, humanities. So, a good h-index in one field might be considered low in another.
  5. Access to Research Collaborations: Collaborations can boost your h-index. Working with other researchers, can increase the visibility and citation potential of your papers. However, too many authors on a single paper might dilute the perceived contribution of each.

Remember, while a high h-index can be indicative of a significant academic impact, it’s not the sole measure of your scientific worth. It’s a good idea to give your h-index some consideration, but also focus on the broader spectrum of your academic contributions.

How To Increase H-Index Score?

Increasing your h-index, a metric reflecting the impact and productivity of your academic work, is a strategic goal for many researchers.

This single number, representing the intersection of the quantity of your publications and their citation impact, can play a pivotal role in securing research grants and academic positions.

To boost your h-index, focus on publishing quality research in well-regarded journals. A paper published in a respected journal is more likely to be cited, and each citation nudges your h-index upwards.

For example, if you’re an assistant professor with an h-index of 5, aiming for journals with high visibility in your field can help you reach a higher h-index, making you more competitive for positions like associate or full professor.

Collaboration is another key strategy. Co-authoring with established researchers can increase the reach and citation potential of your papers.

This, however, comes with a caveat: the more number of authors on a paper, the more diluted your perceived contribution might be. Aim for a balance in co-authorship.

Active engagement in the academic community also matters. Increase citations on your work by:

  • Presenting at conferences,
  • networking, and
  • promoting your work on platforms like Google Scholar or Web of Science.

Remember, the h-index varies by field and career stage. A good h-index for a young researcher might be 10, while more senior academics might aim for higher numbers. Using databases like Google Scholar, you can track your number of cited publications and calculate your h-index.

While a higher h-index can bolster your academic profile, it’s not the sole indicator of your scholarly worth – low h-index score is not a dealbreaker in many cases. It’s wise to consider it alongside other measures of your academic and scientific impact.

Good H-Index Score May Vary

A good h-index score is relative, varying across academic fields and career stages. While it offers a valuable snapshot of a researcher’s impact and productivity, it’s important to view it as one part of a larger picture.

Aspiring for a higher h-index should go hand in hand with maintaining the quality and relevance of research. Ultimately, the h-index is a useful tool, but it’s the depth and innovation of your work that truly define your academic legacy.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton has a Masters and PhD in Chemistry from the UK and Australia. He has many years of research experience and has worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate at a number of Universities. Although having secured funding for his own research, he left academia to help others with his YouTube channel all about the inner workings of academia and how to make it work for you.