The association of the H-index and academic rank among full-time academic hand surgeons affiliated with fellowship programs

Joseph Lopez, Srinivas M. Susarla, Edward W. Swanson, Nicholas Calotta, Scott D. Lifchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose To evaluate the association between the Hirsch index (a measure of publications and citations) and academic rank among hand surgeons. Methods This was a cross-sectional study of full-time academic hand surgeons within Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-approved hand surgery fellowship programs in the United States and Canada. The study variables were classified as bibliometric (h-index, I-10 index, total number of publications, total number of citations, maximum number of citations for a single work) and demographics (gender, training factors). The outcome was academic rank (instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, professor, endowed professor). Descriptive, bivariate, and multiple regression statistics were computed. Results The sample was composed of 366 full-time academic hand surgeons; 86% were male and 98% had formal hand surgery fellowship training. The mean time since completion of surgical training was 17 ± 11 years. The distribution of primary faculty appointments was orthopedic surgery (70%) and plastic surgery (30%). Two hundred fifty surgeons (68%) were members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. The mean h-index was 10.2 ± 9.9 and was strongly correlated with academic rank. Gender was not associated with academic rank. Distribution of academic ranks was as follows: instructor (4%), assistant professor (28%), associate professor (40%), professor (22%), and endowed professor (5%). The h-index, years since completion of training, and American Society for Surgery of the Hand membership were associated with academic rank. The h-index had a high sensitivity and specificity for predicting academic rank. Conclusions The h-index is a reliable tool for quantitatively assessing research productivity and should be considered for use in academic hand surgery. Clinical relevance When evaluating candidates for academic promotion in hand surgery, the h-index is a potentially valuable tool for assessing research productivity and impact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1434-1441
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hand Surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Academic productivity
  • I-10 index
  • academic rank
  • h-index
  • number of citations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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