After becoming disillusioned by the seemingly elitist system of publishing in scientific journals,Â Jorge Hirsch devised the h-index; a system to quantify the scientific impact of a researcher’s publications (regardless of journal) and thus the scientific impact (importance) of the researcher.
There’s a clear pecking order [for scientific journals], established and reinforced by several independent rating systems. Chief among them: the Journal Impact Factor.
Hirsch, like his peers, understood that if he wanted to get to the front ranks of his discipline, he had to publish in journals with higher JIFs. But this struck him as unfair. [â€¦] It shouldn’t be about where he published; it should be about his work.
[â€¦] In his 2005 article, Hirsch introduced the h-index. The key was focusing not on where you published but on how many times other researchers cited your work. In practice, you take all the papers you’ve published and rank them by how many times each has been cited. [â€¦] Or to put it more technically, the h-index is the number n of a researcher’s papers that have been cited by other papers at least n times. High numbers = important science = important scientist.
According to the article, Edward Wittenâ€”cosmologist at the Institute for Advanced Studyâ€”scores the highest of all physicists with 120, Stephen Hawking gets 67, while Hirsch rates a 52.