How do I despise h-factors, let me count the ways

Promotion committees at my MRU have decided that h-factors are a critical component of their decision-making process. Your paperwork now must include a table that includes all your pubs, the number of cites the paper has received, the IF of the journal in which it is published, and of course what place author you are, and what your contribution was. And now, said table is part of your annual review. Beyond just being a pain in the ass to do this, it so damn shortsighted.
So what are the reasons to despise the h-factor? Well there are the standard limits of researcher density. Cell is Cell because there are pant loads of Cell biologists, and far fewer people who work on snake evolution. Then there is the valuing of quantity over quality. If people cite it, it has to be good, right?
So for my annual exercise in stupidity with the Chairman from Hell, I had reason to check my h-factor, and check citations on various papers. I was really surprised: one of my “sleeper” papers that got a single digit cites over the last 10 years, all of a sudden had a truckload of cites in the last year or so. It had jumped over 10 papers in rank. There is a renewed interest in this area (from which I have moved on), and a bunch of people cited it for new stuff.
Olympics Day 15 - Athletics

As much as I am happy, this isn’t about my paper. Its about the fact that h-factors is that they award immediacy and fads. If you are young, you  can’t necessarily wait five years for a  paper to find its audience (all else being equal). I am sure that you can “correct” for age (after all if you write one paper a year, and every paper gets cited at least once, your h-factor will go up by 1 every year).  But who cares? What happened to actually reading papers and making judgements on quality?

3 thoughts on “How do I despise h-factors, let me count the ways

  1. I’ve been hoping that h will kill off IF, which I think would be an improvement, but it doesn’t sound like your institution is using h that way. And evaluating papers yourself is so 20th century, most scientists are too busy.

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