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What the "h"?

Or, What Are We Buying When We Buy Big Wheels?


A friend recently pointed out the so-called "h" index of our latest high profile acquisitions. [These would be Francois Sainfort and Julie Jacko.] Although I knew about this newest effort to track how valuable and productive we are, it had not occured to me to check out the newcomers...

Although all of these indices of productivity have flaws, it is interesting to see the results.

The h-index (Jorge Hirsch, 2005) is defined as:

The index is based on the distribution of citations received by a given researcher's publications. Hirsch writes:

A scientist has index h if h of his Np papers have at least h citations each, and the other (Np - h) papers have at most h citations each.

In other words, a scholar with an index of h has published h papers each of which has been cited by others at least h times.[1] Thus, the h-index reflects both the number of publications and the number of citations per publication.

QUIZ TIME - Rank by h

a) U of M member of the National Academy of Science

b) Good biochemistry faculty member

c) New Star Hire II

d) Mr. Bonzo

e) A Regents professor

f) New Star Hire I

g) Current star medical school faculty member

Answer: (e), (a), (g), (d), (b), (c), (f)


94 (e)

72 (a)

63 (g)

22 (d)

18 (b)

12 (c)

8 (f)

I won't embarrass anyone by listing exact salaries which are just about as ridiculous. Let's just say that between the two of them our new hires pull down about $500K per year. None of the other U of M faculty in the list makes as much as $250K, and most considerably less.

At these prices, and h indices, I wonder if we have the money to fulfill our ambitious aspirations of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]?

Bob, Tom?

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