Sunday, October 17, 2010

Scientist Impact Factors (SIF)

Nowadays the impact of a scientist's work is as important as the work itself. And of course, there are many many different ways of measuring this impact: (i) number of citations, (ii) h-index, (iii) publish or perish, etc. Of course, for all of these self-citations are an important issue to be taken care of. There are many pro's and con's for any measure, e.g. the h-index has been suggested to be replaced by a g-index. Both the h- and g-index measure the combination of productivity and impact, but the values are calculated differently. A h-index of 20 means that the author has at least 20 papers that are cited at least 20 times. The g-index corresponds to the (unique) largest number such that the top g articles received (together) at least g2 citations.

Another much more simple measure has so far not been discussed, and which is related to the impact factor for journals. For a given year, say 2008, one looks at the total number of citations for papers in the journal from the years 2006 and 2007 (A), and divide it by the total number of papers in the journal for the years 2006 and 2007 (B). The impact factor is then given by A/B.

Of course, the same procedure could be applied to scientists. I have had to update my statistics recently for a research proposal, so was in an unique position to generate the data. In the figure below, I have plotted my Scientist Impact Factor (SIF) for the years 1998-2009 (also indicated is the one for 2010, although there the statistics is not finished yet).

As one can see, there is a gradual improvement of the SIF, reaching a respectable 7.67 (5.25 without self-citations) for 2009. This SIF measure (without self-citations) might thus be used as additional measure for measuring the impact of a scientist's work, and complement the total number of citations and the h-index.

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