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Research Impact and Citation Analysis

Calculate H-Index

Limitations  |  Find the H-Index for an Author  |  Counterpoints


Different sources provide different h-index counts.

Different databases give different h-indexes, as you'll see in the tutorial below. Google Scholar found an h-index of 35 for an author, while Scopus had 17.

Retrieving h-index in Scopus will only account for publications and citations in Scopus. Scopus has a limited number of book entries, for example, so if an author has several widely cited books that aren’t indexed in Scopus, then those entries will not appear in the Scopus count. They may be available in Google Scholar.

Google Scholar, on the other hand, is more likely to contain erroneous associations – especially for non-verified profiles. So make sure that the publications associated with a specific author are truly written by that author.


H-index focuses exclusively on citation practices.

Another limitation of h-index is that it looks at cited publications. It doesn’t represent scholarly productivity or impact of other kinds of publications. What if an author has published multiple newspaper editorials? Or if the author has a popular substack or blog presence? Or created an innovative digital exhibition? None of this productivity or impact would be captured by h-index if those publications were widely read and experienced but not formally cited.

Find the H-Index for an Author

This tutorial will walkthrough finding the H-index for a given author. H-index is a metric designed to measure a combination of an author’s impact and productivity. The formula for H-index is:

The highest value of h, when h articles have at minimum h citations.

If an author has six total publications, each of which respectively gained 1, 2, 3, 3, 5, and 20 cites from other works:

  • ≥ 1 publications have at least 1 citation
  • ≥ 2 publications have at least 2 citations
  • ≥ 3 publications have at least 3 citations
  • It is not true that ≥ 4 publications have at least 4 citations – only two do.

So the h-index for that author would be 3.

In this tutorial, we will be using both Google Scholar and Scopus to find the H-index without having to do manual calculations.


Option 1: Google Scholar

In Google Scholar, if a researcher has a verified profile, their h-index is available. Search for John Paul MacDuffie and select his verified profile.

Google Scholar search for john paul macduffie showing user profile for that person

The h-index should be available in a side-panel. MacDuffie’s h-index in Google Scholar is listed at 35.

Full Google Scholar profile for john paul macduffie with h-index listed on left

Option 2: Scopus

Open Scopus, and begin by searching for a researcher of interest. We’ll search for John MacDuffie. Select the Authors tab, and type in your researcher’s name.

Scopus interface with author tab selected and macduffie, john entered as researcher

There are two entries for John MacDuffie, and one of them appears to be the correct entry. The h-index is listed in the third column as 17. This is very different than the Google Scholar count, and we’ll discuss the implications of that in the Limitations section below.

Scopus search results for john macduffie with two possible profiles

We’re fairly sure that the second entry isn’t the same as our John MacDuffie, but what if he was? Would that impact the h-index? To find out, we need to see if any of those three publications by the second John MacDuffie-Woodburn has at least 18 citations. Click on the 3 documents. Under MacDuffie Woodburn.

Scopus results after clicking on macduffie woodburn's documents

Two of the three publications have less than 18 publications, and wouldn’t change the h-index. But the third publication has more. So if these two entries were actually representing the same person (which, in this case, they are not), there would actually be 18 documents with at least 18 citations, and the h-index would be 18.

Whenever you see multiple entries for a single person in Scopus, and you’re confident that those multiple entries represent one person, it’s always good to do a double-check the citation counts of the other entries in order to get an accurate h-index count.

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