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Ann Anat. 2011 May;193(3):191-6. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2011.03.011. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

How to judge a book by its cover? How useful are bibliometric indices for the evaluation of "scientific quality" or "scientific productivity"?

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Institute for Anatomy and Cell Biology, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Friedrich Loeffler Strasse 23c, 17487 Greifswald, Germany.


How to pre-select the most promising candidates for an open position out of several applications? One of the possibilities is to check the personal bibliometric indices of these candidates by looking into appropriate databases. In these databases the number of publications, the total number of citations, the average number of citations per paper and the h-index are easy to find. Thus, it is easy to use these parameters for a pre-election. First, the particular values for the several bibliometric indicators could be retrieved for scientists working in the field of Anatomy & Cell Biology. Next, an analysis of how useful and reliable these bibliometric indicators are is performed. Most of the indicators strongly depend on the seniority of a researcher. Thus, these indicators favour older scientists over younger ones. Based on that, these indicators are not well-suited to identify young and promising scientists. Therefore, it is proposed that indicators, which correct for the time a scientists spends working in the field, may be better suited for such a pre-election, such as the hy index (also known as m-index) or the Py index. In this context, it should be emphasized that these indicators may be useful for pre-selection. All available indicators are based on data obtained from the past achievements of the scientists and may not predict their future achievements. However, despite the availability of these indicators, the best method to gain an impression of the quality is currently still the old-fashioned method of reading the papers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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