[Coral-List] A student's guide to the h-index

Risk, Michael riskmj at mcmaster.ca
Wed Dec 30 20:09:26 UTC 2020

   Hi David.

   Don't mean to be a bubble-burster...I am just a cynical old guy living
   in the forest.

   There are tons of problems with science, and only some of them are
   self-inflicted. My pet peeve is...did you know that "manager" is now
   the world's most common profession? And the very idea that science can
   be "managed" is repulsive. Doesn't stop them trying.

   Way back when,. Canada used to pride itself on our granting system.
   NSERC grants were restricted to 4 pages, and were reviewed by a
   committee of peers. The camel got its nose under the tent flap. First,
   a government rep sat in...next, the length limit was raised...then more
   managers...20 years down the road, we are not much better than the
   soul-crushing NSF system. And I don't think we should attribute any
   higher motives to these managers than we would to any other group. They
   will protect themselves.

   When we get involved with grading or ranking our colleagues, we really
   need objective criteria, or seemingly objective. Otherwise, it's
   opinions-and they are like noses, everybody has one.

   In short, I see h-indices as one tool, to be used intelligently. Much
   better, of course, is to go to the library and READ the papers on which
   decisions will be based. I will spare you the story of the guy at our
   place who MADE UP a buncha papers on the assumption no one would check.
   (I wanted to fire his butt-the Dean said the paperwork would kill us
   and besides 4 more years and he'd retire.)

   #2 is a direct result, not so much of h-scores, but of the importance
   we place on authorships. That's as it should be, and that's why this
   recent hydra-like trend is so dismaying. All I will say is-have some
   self-respect. Don't do this. Because, as you say, it's obvious what's
   going on.


   On Dec 30, 2020, at 2:14 PM, David Blakeway
   <[1]fathom5marineresearch at gmail.com> wrote:

   Thank you! (for bursting my bubble :) I have this delusion I see the
   problem, but it's only 'a' problem.
   Regarding your point 1, nasty me thinks 'yeah, managers, my second
   least-favourite species after marketers' Nice me thinks 'they are
   well-meaning, just trying to advance the department/school/university
   according to current best practice'
   To point 2 it's 'come on, stop this joke, we all see what you're doing'
   and 'worldwide collaboration is exactly what we need right now'
   What do you mean when you say you 'despair of solutions'?
   And isn't your point 2 a direct consequence of the h-index?


   1. mailto:fathom5marineresearch at gmail.com

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