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Laryngoscope. 2013 Apr;123(4):884-9. doi: 10.1002/lary.23951. Epub 2013 Feb 16.

Comparison of scholarly impact among surgical specialties: an examination of 2429 academic surgeons.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103, USA.



The h-index, a bibliometric indicator that objectively characterizes the impact of an author's scholarship, is an effective tool that may be considered by academic departments for decisions related to hiring and faculty advancement. Our objective was to characterize the scholarly productivity of academic surgeons from different specialties relative to otolaryngologists.


Analysis of a bibliometric database.


The h-indices of 2,429 faculty members within surgical specialties at 20 randomly selected academic institutions were calculated using the Scopus database and were examined to determine relationship with academic rank and comparison among surgical subspecialties.


The h-index statistically increased with academic rank. Mean h-indices were as follows: assistant professor, 4.37 (range, 2.73-6.69); associate professor, 8.70 (6.53-11.02); professor, 16.44 (13.39-20.45); and chairperson, 20.79 (14.81-27.89). Mean increase between academic rank was 5.47, with the largest increase between the levels of associate professor and professor. Further examination demonstrated statistically significant increases through all academic ranks for most, but not all, individual specialties. Urologists, general surgeons, and neurosurgeons had the highest mean h-indices.


h-indices among the different surgical specialties vary and are potentially impacted by the number of practitioners as well as research emphasis within a field. The mean h-index of academic otolaryngologists falls in the lower values for academic surgeons. Because this metric varies among different fields, it is most relevant for comparison when examining values within a field. H-indices reliably increase with increasing academic rank through professor and offer a quantifiable and objective alternative to other metrics when evaluating faculty members for academic advancement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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