Do Hirsch-type indices behave the same in assessing single publications? An empirical study of 29 bibliometric indicators

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

10 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1815-1833
Journal / PublicationScientometrics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


The h-index, introduced by Hirsch in 2005, was used by Schubert in 2009 to assess single publications. In 2011, Bornmann, Schier, Marx, and Daniel confirmed that the h-index is effective when assessing papers in chemistry. Quite a few Hirsch-type indices originate from the h-index. Can these Hirsch-type indices also be effectively used for assessing single publications? Will they behave the same or differently? In this study, the research objects were 26 kinds of Hirsch-type indices (including the original h-index) and three traditional methods, a total of 29 indicators. Based on the original definitions of these indicators and our new explanations of generations (i.e. mixed, pure, and non-pure generations of citations), we defined/redefined 29 paper-level metrics, calculated their values to assess publications, considered the correlations between those indices and the h-index or Wu’s w-index, and did factor analysis to contrast effectiveness. It was found that a few Hirsch-type indices (i.e. the f-index, rational h-index, real h-index, j-index, hg-index, Woeginger’s w-index, and tapered h-index) are highly correlated with the h-index but not close to Wu’s w-index, while some other indices (i.e. the a-index, h(5,2)-index, q2-index, r-index, maxprod, e-index, p-index, and weighted h-index) have relatively low correlations with the h-index but are close to Wu’s w-index. The normalized h-index and ph-ratio are obviously different from the other indices, and in most cases, their correlation coefficients with the h-index or Wu’s w-index are statistically non-significant (p > .05) or negative significant (p < .01). We argue that indices which are neither too near to nor too far from the h-index could be much more promising than others.

Research Area(s)

  • Hirsch-type indices , Single publication H-index , Paper-level metrics , Reference networks , Citation analysis