Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-index

Although the h-index is well known, I didn’t know that it may have some value, but it does! Such as a minimum requirement for certain academic positions; something that I had never seen before, and I have reviewed many academic job posts for years on the internet from all universities in the world!

Academic absurd cases? Looking for candidates with a minimum h-indexTo illustrate it, I’ve recently received the following academic job offer:

  • From the Department of International Relations we share with you this call for professors of sociology, economics and history interested in pursuing an academic stay at Saint Petersburg State Polytechinical University (Russian Federation). Candidates should have at least 2 points in the Hirsch index”.

H-index is, for a given researcher, the number h of publications that are cited at least h times each in academic journals. For example, my h-index is 2 (Finance) because I have 2 papers cited 2 or more times each; the rest of my publications have only 1 (or none) citation each. And to get a 3 h-index, these other papers would have to be cited at least twice, and that would mean 3 articles cited at least 3 times each.

But this so convoluted thing seems to work, at least within the same field of knowledge. So the pirates that wrote the announcement knew what they were doing, and thus I guess they avoid reviewing and/or analyzing (with love and care) a lot of requests, such as those who do not understand the h-index, those do not maintain it, or those without citations, among others. Why wasting time browsing hundreds of academic curriculums when they have the miraculous h-index?

Moving forward, Google Scholar calculates your h-index, though you can also obtain it your course, but you have to document and demonstrate it indicating journals, dates, articles, authors, etc.. The weak point is that Google Scholar considers also self-citations (should they be included for the h-index?), and citations from not indexed journals, books, and other publications. But it’s what we have.

Therefore, apart from the overwhelming logic of using the h-index to select researchers, don’t you think it is outrageously absurd? You can imagine what may be the environment/working pressure on a place that calls for the h-index to their professors/researchers … but it’s up to you and your needs.

The seven habits of highly effective researchers (for publishing in journals)

The seven habits of highly effective researchers I wished I had written this book by Stephen Covey that I’m now paraphrasing, but you know my limitations, I’ll have to put up with using some others ideas. Though this time I’ve got something pretty amusing, I think: a different approach to the hard work of publishing in academic journals, on how to being highly effective by aligning to the following simple principles:


1. Just do it

Be proactive with your research and papers,take the lead if possible of the research projects you’re involved, and especially of the manuscripts. If you have a PhD, you are able to lead it (at your level). If you trust your publications in others, they never will do well, there will always be excuses. Take the helm or your papers never will be published.

2. Be unreasonably aspirational

Set the type of journals that you want/need to publish in and go for them. Know your limitations and plan where you want to get. Look what journals are looking for, what kind of research is needed, who their editors are, etc.

3. Cultivate your publishing pipeline

The important thing is doing good research (data driven), but don’t forget the publishing pipeline, as you need to have projects and manuscripts at all stages of the process: researching, writing, and publishing in journals.

4. Be patient, be changing

This is the most difficult/soft habit, you have no choice but to live with the timing of publication of papers and with your other academic obligations. Take a look back and see what you’ve got, keep it or start changing it if you don’t like it, coming out smoothly of your comfort area.


5. Put your peers and editors first

On your own you are going nowhere in this publishing game. Don’t be selfish, in spite of habit 1. Give more of what you get, don’t do balance of who wins if you win something by publishing. Collaborate with other researchers, try to understand managing editors, help them being peer-reviewer or editor yourself.

6. Follow the academic networks

Get out there, expose yourself to the world, and let others know your work and publications. Think also in the transfer of knowledge and build your personal brand. Force yourself to use the academic networks participating in discussions of your field of knowledge, writing blogs, or using the internet tools for researchers. Even if you think it’s worthless, it’ll improve your skills and brand in the medium term.


7. Be obsessed with the student

You’re primarily a professor/educator, don’t forget it, don’t forget the classroom.  Research and publications aren’t everything. This is a struggle to find the balance between education, research and transfer of results that will make you even a better teacher.


I’m not stupid when publishing in journals

I’m not stupid when publishing in journalsLast week I gave a lecture (Professors and their publications. War techniques in the web 3.0 environment) in a private university on scientific publications within a seminar series on research. Though this is not the purpose of this post but one of the interesting topics discussed or that raised interest.

It was the attitude of the most senior or more experienced professors towards everything that had to do with the requirement of academic publications: they were quite critical of the current system of publications in indexed journals in assessing the quality of research, and by extension of academic accreditations and their impact on teaching skills.

But by now you know my position about the demands of publications for professors and scientists, which can be summarized in the Media Markt slogan “I’m not stupid”, but referring to publish in academic journals and to improve the research part of the curriculum:

  • What is important is the research activity, so to improve as a professor; but of course you can be a good teacher without having a PhD or publishing your research in journals, although it’s more difficult.
  • The quality of scientific research is currently assessed almost exclusively by the publication record in academic journals.
  • This system of publications in indexed journals (mainly in ISI Web of Knowledge and Scopus) is the one we have, which is pretty good by the way, you just have to know it a little, without obsessing.
  • You also have to know how editors and journals work, their needs and objectives.
  • Finally, social networks used wisely can also help to improve the chances of publishing in journals and that our papers are known, and then obtain citations.

The other related topic was h-index, which I don’t even remember most of it because nobody seems to demand it at my university or in the academic job posts that I see on the web, and that I will write about soon, not so much on how it’s calculated which is well-known, but on who calculates it or how I can get it, and about its advantages and disadvantages for professors as an alternative for assessing the quality of our research and prestige.

And what about your academic career? Do you care about your research activity?

POLL: Scientists, web tools and social networks

Scientists,  web tools and social networksInternet is assumed to help university professors and scientists, but there are so many web tools and social networks that often turn against researchers and academics, overwhelming them and eventually making them to use partially only a couple of them.

If we dig a little deeper, we see that for each stage of the research process there are specific tools. It is true that many of them try to cover all the processes, but in the end have only an advantage in just one activity in particular, which makes us perceive that these tools are duplicated for the same functions, or solve the same problem for scientists; and because the research process is complex and varied in itself, as you can see in the high-level scheme that I usually use:

  1. Research project definition, funding and collaboration
  2. Research activity
  3. Write the paper and publish in journals
  4. Share your publications

So I’m interested in what Internet academic tools and social networks you are using in the production process of your research and when publishing them in academic journals; it’ll be worth to learn and continue update our management and organizational research skills.

And get ready because they are quite a few, and I’ve only listed the most important ones…

* It can be chosen several answers

**Comments are highly encouraged

The lost war on journal’s papers and open access

the lost war on journal's papers and open accessElsevier, the publishing house, is requesting scientific social-networking sites, and directly to authors, to remove the papers posted online without their permission (The Economist, 2014).

  • When an article is published, some in principle logical copyright is transferred to the academic journals, as they have some editorial costs, and also often provide a powerful and quality platform (the electronic journal webpage), well positioned for SEO in search engines like Google. In other words, they usually provide an interesting service for the international scientific community, but of course at a cost.

The need for access to scientific literature or knowledge in an open and easy way is behind this problem, of course, as the good feeling to challenge the growing power of the powerful publishing corporations; but I feel that the unstoppable force that moves desperately researchers and authors to disclose their papers is the growing obsession with citations and the metrics associated:

  1. On the one hand, universities and accrediting agencies require professors to publish in journals indexed in specific databases, as ISI Web of Knowledge / Web of Science (Thomson Reuters), Scopus (Elsevier) or EBSCO.
  2. But there is an increasing pressure on citations from our articles as a measuring metric of the impact and quality of our research. This leads us to disclose our papers to be found in the Internet, either through working papers in repositories, or hanging the articles or abstracts directly in social and academic networks.

However, this ‘lost’ war (for publishing houses) on journal’s papers and open access shows a certain lack of knowledge by scientists of how SEO and search engines work, since a paper or article is much more easily found for example in Google if it is published in a platform / journal of these corporations than if it’s posted in a repository or in the social networks.

Then, of course, there are other related or derived connotations, such as academic networking: if a researcher or peer asks us a copy of our last article, do we refuse it when is probably a potential and valuable citation?

Finally, the solution to publish an earlier version of the article in open access, not the article itself, sounds a little sloppy. Anyway, I can’t think of disclosing an article that has been published and has publisher’s copyright, because I value my relationship with the editors of journals, it would be like betraying them, don’t you think?

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