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Abstract

The paper proposes two new simple indexes - the k and w indexes - to assess a scientist’s publications record based on citations. The two indexes are superior to the widely used h index (Hirsch, 2005), as they preserve all its valuable characteristics and try to overcome one of its known major shortcomings, i.e. that it uses only a fraction of the information contained in a scientist’s citations profile and, as a result, does not show a sufficiently fine ‘granularity’ (the h index is defined over the set of positive integers) to allow a fully satisfactory ranking of scientists. This problem is particularly acute in those disciplines, such as Economics, where scientific productivity and citation practices typically yield fewer citations per paper and, as a consequence, are characterized by ‘structurally’ lower values of the h indexes. Both the k and w indexes are defined over R+, fall in the right-open interval [h, h+1) and their integer part is conveniently equal to the scientist’s h index. While the h index is influenced only by part of the citations received by a scientist’s most-cited publications, the k index takes into account all the citations received by her most-cited publications and the w index accounts for the citations received by the entire set of her publications. Variants of the k and w indexes are proposed which account for co-authorship. The h index and the new indexes proposed are calculated for 332 professors of economics in Italian universities and the results obtained are used to rank Italian university departments.

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