January 22, 2022

Research Article: “Judging Merits in the Age Of The H-Index: Citizen Bibliometrics in Bio Medicine and Economics” (Preprint)

The following preprint was recently made available on the arXiv site.


Judging Merits in the Age Of The H-Index: Citizen Bibliometrics in Bio Medicine and Economics

Björn Hammarfelt
Swedish School of Library and Information Science, SSLIS, University of Borås
Leiden University

Alexander D. Rushforth
Leiden University


via arXiv


The number of publications has been a fundamental merit in the competition for academic positions since the late 18th century. Today, the simple counting of publications has been supplemented with a whole range of bibliometric measures, which supposedly not only measures the volume of research but also its impact. In this study, we investigate how bibliometrics are used for evaluating the impact and quality of publications in two specific settings: biomedicine and economics. Our study exposes the extent and type of metrics used in external evaluations of candidates for academic positions at Swedish universities. Moreover, we show how different bibliometric indicators, both explicitly and implicitly, are employed to value and rank candidates. Our findings contribute to a further understanding of bibliometric indicators as judgment devices that are employed in evaluating individuals and their published works within specific fields. We also show how expertise in using bibliometrics for evaluative purposes is negotiated at the interface between domain knowledge and skills in using indicators. In line with these results we propose that the use of metrics in this context is best described as a form of citizen bibliometrics – an underspecified term which we build upon in the paper.

Direct to Full Text Article (20 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.