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

David Blakeway fathom5marineresearch at gmail.com
Thu Dec 31 00:47:16 UTC 2020

Mike and all,
I'd like to learn more about how academia is done. As an outsider, no doubt
my understanding is very incomplete.

Perhaps I am focusing excessively on the h-index. And for sure that's
partly because my own h-index, if I had one, would be so tiny I'd be
ashamed to display it in public (but I don't want one so that's ok).

BUT, reflecting on your two earlier points, which you said are more
threatening to scholarship than the h-index:
Your first point indicates that bureaucracy is likely to misuse the
h-index, therefore isn't the h-index a big problem?
Your second point I understood to mean gaming the system to artificially
inflate authorship. Doesn't that equate to gaming the h-index, therefore
isn't the h-index a big problem?

Don't we conclude from your two points that the h-index is a big big

On Thu, Dec 31, 2020 at 4:09 AM Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca> wrote:

> 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.
> Mike
> On Dec 30, 2020, at 2:14 PM, David Blakeway <
> fathom5marineresearch at gmail.com> wrote:
> Mike,
> 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?

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