Use of the h-index to measure the quality of the output of health services researchers

Yvonne Birks, Caroline Fairhurst, Karen Bloor, Marion Campbell, Wendy Baird, David Torgerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To assess the use of the h-index to measure the quality of the output of health services researchers.
Method: Online survey, with bibliometric analysis of a convenience volunteer sample of researchers mainly in the UK, North America and Australasia. Self-reported from Google Scholar: h-index; number of papers; number of citations; number of papers with ≥10 citations.
Results: There were complete responses from 532 health services researchers of whom 371 (70%) were from the UK. Of the bibliometric measures, the h-index appeared to be the best discriminator between other measures of quality (e.g. seniority; entry into the last UK Research Assessment Exercise). The median h-index was 12, with 90th and 95th quantiles of 40 and 52, respectively. Statisticians had the highest h-index with qualitative researchers the lowest (median 16 and 7, respectively). The h-index was predicted to increase by approximately 1 point annually with the biggest increase in statisticians and smallest in qualitative researchers when estimated by quantile regression.
Conclusions: The h-index is a useful summary measure of output and quality of health services researchers. However, any accurate interpretation of bibliometric measures needs to take into account a person’s research discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-109
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Services Research & Policy
Issue number2
Early online date9 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014



  • h-index
  • quality
  • research

Cite this