The h-index is an author-level metric, originally proposed by Jorge E. Hirsch in 2005, to simultaneously measure productivity (number of papers published) and citation impact (number of times a paper is cited). If you’re interested, you can read Hirsch’s original proposal for the h-index here.
For a particular scholar, their h-index is the number of h published papers where each paper has been cited at least h times. For example, if Dr. Jane Doe has an h-index of 12, then she has published 12 papers that have each been cited at least 12 times. The h-index attempts to measure both the productivity and the apparent scientific impact of an author. The index is based on the set of the most cited papers and the number of citations that they have received in other people's publications. So she could have published 112 papers, but none of them have been cited more than 12 times. The image below from Wikimedia Commons might help you visualize these possibilities.
It’s important to be aware that the h-index is only a snapshot of a researcher’s output based on a particular database. It might be important to consult other metrics and use other analyses depending on the situation. Each database (Scopus, Web of Knowledge, Google Scholar) is likely to produce a different h for the same scholar, because of different journal coverage.
You could calculate your own h-index by hand. First, you would need to collect data on which articles are citing your published articles. Then, organize these from most cited to least cited. With the publications in order, find the point where your first h papers have h citations.
|Paper #||# of Citations|
In the example above, the scholar’s h-index would be 4 because the first 4 papers have at least 4 citations; however, since the fifth paper only has 1 citation, it wouldn’t be included. If the fifth paper had been cited 5 times, this scholar would have an h-index of 5.
Doing this by hand is time-consuming as you have to track down the number of times each of your citations has been cited—a daunting task for a researcher. Luckily, you can easily calculate your h-index using Scopus! Your librarians at Duke University Medical Library have created tutorial to quickly guide you through the process step-by-step.