The Use of the h-Index in Academic Orthopaedic Surgery
Background: The Hirsch index (h-index), widely considered a valuable measure of assessing academic productivity, has been studied in various medical and surgical specialties and has shown strong associations between higher h-indices and academic promotion, as well as with National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards. Additionally, the m-index and e-index may complement the h-index in this assessment of merit. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the h, m, and e-indices and academic rank for 2,061 academic orthopaedic surgeons in the United States. Methods: The h-indices of faculty members from 120 academic orthopaedic surgery residency programs were organized and calculated using the Scopus and Google Scholar databases. Additionally, m-index and e-index scores were calculated from Google Scholar. After application of exclusion criteria, 2,061 academic orthopaedic surgeons were included. Results: Academic rank (assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and chair) increases as mean h-index, m-index, and e-index scores increase. Among 976 assistant professors, 504 associate professors, 461 professors, and 120 chairs, mean h, m, and e-indices increased with each academic rank. In the comparison of male and female surgeons, there was no significant difference in h, m, or e-index scores, with the exception of increased h-index scores among male assistant professors. Conclusions: Scholarly impact, as defined by academic productivity and scientific relevance, can be classified by the h-index and supplemented by the m and e-indices. This study has revealed well-defined differences in h, m, and e-indices with regard to academic rank among orthopaedic surgeons. Although the h, m, and e-indices may be of value as adjunct assessment devices for scholarly merit, careful consideration of their limitations must be maintained.
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