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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2018 Mar;141(3):432e-438e. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000004134.

Inconsistency in Automated Reports of Scientific Productivity and Impact in Academic Plastic Surgery.

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New York, N.Y. From the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery and the Department of Medical Library, New York University Langone Medical Center.



Currently, no consensus metric for measuring academic productivity within plastic surgery exists. The h-index is widely used, as it captures both the quantity and quality of an individual's contribution. However, discrepancies in online reporting make accurate h-index calculation challenging. This study highlights inconsistencies within plastic surgery by assessing differences in reporting of the h-index and other measures of academic productivity across online scientific databases.


Plastic surgery faculty at institutions with Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited residency programs were identified and searched across four databases: Web of Science, Scopus, Google Scholar, and the National Library of Medicine (PubMed). The total number of publications, citations, and h-index were recorded for each author and analyzed using a Mann-Whitney test.


Seven hundred twenty-two faculty members were included in this study. Reporting of publications was highest in Google Scholar and lowest in Web of Science. Because of incomplete information (PubMed) and underuse (Google Scholar), h-index could be assessed only between Web of Science and Scopus, where the average discrepancy in citations and h-index was 722 and 7.0 per author, respectively. Discrepancies were more significant among faculty members holding a Ph.D. degree, higher academic rank, or belonging to the male gender.


Inconsistencies between online scientific databases profoundly affect plastic surgeons. Given the importance placed on metrics such as the h-index, it is imperative that the plastic surgery community push for solutions that ensure more reliable, transparent, and cohesive reporting of academic productivity.

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