The effect of self-citations on the hirsch index among full-time academic hand surgeons

Joseph Lopez, Srinivas M. Susarla, Edward W. Swanson, J. D. Luck, Sami Tuffaha, Scott D. Lifchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objective To assess the magnitude of self-citation among a cohort of academic hand surgeons and estimate the effect of self-citation on the Hirsch index (h-index). Design Cross-sectional study. Setting Johns Hopkins Hospital, Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Division of Hand Surgery. Results The study sample comprised 364 full-time academic hand surgeons. Study subjects had an average of 45 ± 73 publications. The mean total number of citations was 800 ± 1738, the median number of self-citations was 2.5 (interquartile range [IQR]: 0-14.8), and the average frequency of self-citation was 2.2% ± 3.7%. Older surgeons were slightly less likely to self-cite (coefficient = 0.07; p = 0.001). Furthermore, as the total number of publications increased, the frequency of self-citation increased (coefficient = 0.03; p < 0.001). The h-index increased because of self-citation in 57 surgeons (15.7%). After adjusting for American Society for Surgery of the Hand status and academic rank, increasing rates of self-citation were associated with an increase in the h-index. Surgeons with 7 or more self-citations were more likely to have their h-index influenced by self-citation. Conclusions The rate of self-citation among full-time academic hand surgeons affiliated with fellowship programs is fairly low. For most of the surgeons, self-citation did not affect the h-index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-322
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of surgical education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • academic productivity
  • bibliometrics
  • h-index
  • hand surgery
  • self-citation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education


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