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Hi Livio,
the Google Scholar has the following advantages, compared to the prior ISI based:
it is freely available, People like me, with an Umlaut in the family name, can combine all relevant citations. Same holds for women, who took on the name of her husband. It includes patents (just convenient, does not really count towards citation, and if, it would be still highly undervaluing the real impact on society, it increased my number by 1) . It gives you all information in a much easier format.
It is of course not perfect, but I think it is very important tool to break up these social network structures, for which universities are notorious for. Many people get a job, not because they are brilliant, but because they were born to university parents, know the game and the people. Just 10 years ago, I would say this was 50 % of the factors.
There have been prior examples for ideas how to at least diminish that somewhat, for example the German rules for not even accepting the application of somebody from the same university “Keine Hausberufungen”. Still in many cases one can ask, why the hell did this guy or girl get that tenure.
Number of publications does not cut it. There are plenty of people, especially in economics, who produce a lot of shallow items. Getting to the reception by the others is much better. People with just a very few papers are either “famous” for them, like Einstein with his 4 in the miraculous year 1905, where it is very clear, that they are genius, or sometimes are just convenient reviews of methods, or just some lucky shot.

Again, it is not perfect or the only thing, but overall a very good thing.

Aaagh, and I can’t withstand, I have 71 publ , 900 citations, h-index 13 (ISI got 14, but that took some work), i10-index 19, with working just 5 years in academia.


Hi Genauer:
Seventy one pubs in 5 years. That is very high compared to anything I've come across in the economics field. What field are you in?

Oh god. I can't bear to see mine, let alone try and figure it out.

Here's mine, I think: http://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=nxZzkjMAAAAJ&hl=en. About the same as genauer.

Livio,
mine is mostly in the semiconductor physics / material science / device area. A very fertile ground for papers & patents : -)

Without the patents it would be 74minus 26, 6 of the patents are basically replicas with a different patent organization, so I would not count those in my head. There are Papers after my academia time, but much less frequent in industry patents are more important. Another important difference to the economics field is that in this area successful research is team work. The author lists typically consist of around 5 people.

One professor comes up with an idea and somebody has to produce high quality starting structures, which are often key to the whole thing and the most difficult part of the whole thing, a second department gets involved with further processing or special key measurements, a third, theoreticians or further processing. There is no point to grow your department above 30 people, collaboration is much better, faster, higher quality.

Soo, if the average length of the author list would be as short as the one of Frances, this would be an immediate knock out argument even for most entry level industry positions, because it would show, that this person can not collaborate.
First (main author) and last position (mentor of it all) are more important, I learned later that some folks in other places love to haggle about the positions, and of course one has to establish oneself with at least a few papers being the first author, and only a very few people, like one or two as authors, to show that you are not just a “taken along” guy. For folks above 40 it looks strange, if too many papers have him as first author.

Of course the magazine you publish in, also counts a lot, a Phys. Rev. Lett. was 10x more important than some ….., papers must be peer reviewed to count for anything, at least in my view. For “real world” people (with real factories) IEDM meeting publications are very important, and such a first position REALLY counts : -) Many things are different to the economics field. For number of Publ., using the comparison above I see as good approximation. Soo 74 publ. / 2 / effective 10 years is more reasonable for some vague comparison.

Of course one shouldn’t get pious about 20 %, 30 % differences, and you have to cut some significant slack for disadvantaged folks coming from Brazil or Greece.

Why am I so positive about the h-index?
After finishing my PhD, I also thought a while going for professorship, I gave talks at the top notch addresses, Caltech, IBM, met with people on conferences, even had a contract offer. I taught math lectures, with 75 people crammed into the very last seat, in the 7:30 am slot the administration gave me, in their infinite love for special undergrads like me, fixing the deficiencies of the official program. Being more popular than the professor in the lecture survey, I was also involved in starting and organizing :-) I believe I would have been good at it.

But I took a close look at the age structure and projected demand for physics professors, and the number of PhDs per year, how many were hanging around in many years of precarious university employment. It was basically at least 3 guys (it’s a man’s world with something like 98% male) aiming for one permanent position, typically only reached after the age of 40. I did not use the words “supply and demand” at that time, but I knew that in this rat race, you get forward with “connections”, sucking up to certain people in the right way.
I still have the 270 pages detailed statistics “Grunddaten zum Personalbestand der Hochschulen” handy, as a reminder, that having a very clear picture of supply and demand is strategically very important. We had 20 431 Professors in 1989 in Germany, 1057 in physics, about 55 tenures per year being available, projected for the time interesting for me , compared to about 1500 PhDs /year finished with my age. Not a favorable situation.

So I decided against that, very fortunately, I saw the pain with some friends trying to fulfill their professorship dream, one actually succeeded. And I looked a little bit on the background of some other folks, who succeeded.
I believe that the h-index helps to break up these connection networks of folks who are second and third generation part of the “in group”.


One more thing, which came to my mind.
Germany with 81 Mio people has now 37 700 Professors (one for every 2150, http://www.innovations-report.de/html/berichte/statistiken/bericht-31308.html), whereas Canada has 34.3 Mio and 60 000 "professors" (one for 572) nearly a factor of 4 higher. Why do you need so many? I see a significant cost cutting potential.

I've seen comparisons of physicians per capita in which Canada has much fewer than many European countries. It is interesting to think than when it comes to professors we may have more per capita than other countries. That is certainly worth exploring. Thanks Genauer.

Livio,
1. I "scholared" you! 648 citations, h 14, i10 18, 72 publ., basically identically to me within 1 or max 2 digits. Easily to see that one simple search is fully attributable to you.
I had an early publ in 1992, still a little more hair, but grayer than you : - (
And now we could bitch endlessly, about what detail counts more, weighted how much.
Fact is, we are both no Einsteins, but certainly decent enough for our jobs, like a factor of 2 -3 above average.
I did not succeed with the same for Stephen Gordon, Nick Rowe. Does that give us some hints about what scholar.google does with "private profiles"?

2. According to http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_phy_per_1000_peo-physicians-per-1-000-people Canada has 2.1 physicians per 1000 people, Germany 3.4, Cuba 5.9, and Millionaires paradise San Marino 47
But I have become much more skeptical in the last year about most official numbers, even OECD. Unemployment, urbanization, service sector productivity. All highly misleading, at least.
This is very disappointing, but the way it is.

3. A stern warning to the young readers
If your read all that as a kind of simple numbers game, like SAT and GMAT scores, or how many friends you have on linkedin, xing, facebook, forget it !

If somebody has 1000 or 5000 “friends”, then those are certainly not real “friends”. This is OK, if you are in certain sales positions, but not in general.
People you don’t know, who are trying to friend you, or kind of trying to get you citing them, ieeek.

After your first 20 papers, and first 10 patents, you better do this only if you have something significant to publish, or some significant commercial value to protect. Most the times, your key value to the company is all the stuff, you will never ever publish / patent.

Two possibilities on the prefessor count:

1) I learned when reading History of Mathematics and Physics articles that Canada, the US and the UK organize universities differently than Germany. My first question is "what counts as a professor in Germany?"

Here I believe anyone who teaches a class in a university counts as a professor, even though they may only be a lecturer. Associate Professors, who do not have tenure (yet) certainly count. What they get paid is another matter entirely.

2) Canadian class sizes are smaller than German average, I never had a 400 person class in the whole my university career outside of First Year, and that number quickly diminished after the third week as the lecture boiled down to those who were really serious.

Determinant,
good point,

in Germany basically tenure ("Verbeamtung") counts towards the "Professor".
But this is not exact.

Mechanical and electrical engineering started with 1200 + in my time

Easy answer on the Professor count. We spend a lot more money on post-secondary education than the Germans (and other Europeans) do. According to the OECD, in 2006, Canada devoted 2.7% of its GDP to tertiary education (which, admitedly, is broader than universities), in contrast the Germans spent 1.2% of GDP on tertiary education. (Even you look only at the Tertiary -type-A, the spread is stil 1.7:1). This is a subtle point seemingly lost on the "we coud have free tuition if only we spent as much money as the Europeans" crowd (this is also not unrelated to Determinant's point about class sizes).

Also, we probably have more young people, so more demand for post-secondary education than, say, Germany.

Taken together with Determinant's observation about definitional differences (for example, do Canadian "Professors" include people teaching in colleges?) and that probably explains the gap.

in Germany basically tenure ("Verbeamtung") counts towards the "Professor". But this is not exact.

There you go. Most of my professors in university did not have tenure, most were were on the tenure track but not there yet. This is a very large and very important group in Canadian universities.

The entire first year engineering class at my university had 750 people, large first year classes like Chemistry had four "sections" or lecture series. Thus four professors taught the course, gave common mid-terms and a common exam, but it was your assigned section professor who marked your tests (or took responsibility for the TA who did) and only that professor could sign off on your final mark for the course.

In upper-year electrical engineering courses, I only had a sectioned course twice, one was a common second-year math course for half the faculty, the other was an exceptionally large third-year course. Sectioning also depended on the availability of lecture halls of the right size.

Further to Bob's point, I am familiar with the far, far larger class standards and what I can only describe as "bulk production" practices at European universities. The University of France at Paris is famous for them. This is just a difference in organizational culture and expectations.

It's also why this Lefty has never argued for free tuition. I also wonder how on Earth Charest has allowed the Quebec protests to go on this long. Students who pay subsidized rates do not have a strong bargaining position.

Actually, you can easily calculate the h-index (along with lots of associated statistics) for any name using the Google Scholar database with the free software developed by Anne-Wil Harzing of U. Melbourne (and her research is a must-read for those interested in citation analysis.) Check out http://www.harzing.com/pop_win.htm#download

The only drawback is that with names like "Gordon" or "kim", it is hard to restrict it to just one author....I got over 1000 articles when I searched for "Stephen Gordon" as author in Business&Economics (congrats "Stephen Gordon"....your h-index is 56!)

Having experienced both systems, the German system, at least in some technical fields, just has a small number of professors, often with a large lab hierarchy of relatively job-secure researchers who also teach, and would get professor titles if they were in Canada. People are usually much older in Germany when they get the Professor title, relative to their PhD defences.

Any chance of getting the median scores?

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