G-index, h-index, and citations per paper: which one is more important

In the vast expanse of academic research, three key metrics are critical for evaluating a scholar’s work: the g-index, h-index, and citation count. These metrics, each with its unique perspective, illuminate the path to understanding a researcher’s influence and productivity. The citation count, the most direct of the three, calculates the number of times a paper has been referenced, proving its impact. The h-index, a more complex measure, balances the quantity and citation frequency of a researcher’s publications, offering a comprehensive view of their scholarly output. Lastly, the g-index, although similar to the h-index, assigns additional weight to highly cited papers, highlighting those researchers whose work has profoundly impacted their field. Together, these metrics serve as the foundation of academic evaluation, providing valuable insights while underscoring the diverse aspects of scholarly influence. Stay tuned with us to find more comprehensive information regarding each metric.

What are the g index, h index, and citation for academic papers?


Citations are references to a source in a research paper. They play a crucial role in academic writing as they give credit to the work of other researchers and provide a trail for readers to trace back to the source. This practice also avoids plagiarism by appropriately acknowledging the original author. The fundamental components of a citation include the author(s), title, source or venue name (for instance, the name of the journal it was published or the conference where it was presented), editor(s), volume and edition, date or year of publication, page numbers, and city and country.


The h-index, introduced by physicist Jorge E. Hirsch in 2005, is a metric at the author level that quantifies the productivity and citation impact of a researcher’s publications. The h-index is defined as the highest value of h such that a researcher has published at h papers, each of which has been cited in other papers at least h times. For example, if a researcher has five publications with 5, 8, 6, 2, and 1 citations, respectively. Then, the scholar’s h-index would be 3. This is because they have three papers cited three times or more.


The g-index, proposed by Leo Egghe in 2006, is another metric at the author level calculated based on the distribution of citations received by a given researcher’s publications. The g-index is the highest number achievable when a group of articles, ranked in descending order by citation count, have collectively received at least the square of that number in citations. For example, a g-index of 10 means that a researcher’s top 10 papers have collectively garnered at least 100 citations (10²). Similarly, a g-index of 20 implies that the top 20 papers from the same researcher have collectively received no less than 400 citations (20²).

The g-index serves as an alternative to the older h-index. Unlike the h-index, which doesn’t average the number of citations and only requires a minimum of n citations for the least-cited paper in the set, neglecting the citation count of highly cited papers, the g-index is more inclusive. It allows citations from higher-cited papers to support lower-cited papers in reaching this threshold.

Which one is more important for academic papers?

Indeed, the relevance of the g-index, h-index, and citation count can shift based on the context and the specific objectives of the evaluation. These metrics are not one-size-fits-all, and their importance can differ depending on the particular goals and circumstances.

The citation count is a straightforward metric that quantifies the number of times other works have cited a paper. It directly reflects the influence of a specific piece of research. However, it doesn’t offer insights into the cumulative impact of a researcher’s entire portfolio of work. On the other hand, the h-index is a metric at the author level that aims to quantify both the productivity and citation impact of a researcher’s publications. It takes into account both the number of publications and the number of citations each publication receives. However, it may not fully recognize early-career researchers who haven’t yet had the opportunity to garner a large number of citations. However, as mentioned above, the g-index is another metric at the author level that assigns more importance to articles with a high number of citations. It can be especially beneficial for researchers with multiple highly-cited papers, as it considers the combined citation counts of a researcher’s top ‘g’ papers.

Indeed, no single metric can fully encapsulate the complex nature of academic influence. Each of these metrics offers a unique viewpoint, often utilized in conjunction to provide a more holistic evaluation. For example, citation counts may be more pertinent when gauging the impact of individual papers. At the same time, the h-index and g-index could be more advantageous for assessing a researcher’s overall clout in their discipline.

Indeed, it’s crucial to remember that these metrics should be applied judiciously. They are predicated on citation counts, which can be swayed by factors such as self-citation, citation cartels, and disparities in citation practices across different fields. Consequently, they may not accurately reflect the quality or importance of the research.


The metrics introduced in this article offer valuable perspectives on a researcher’s impact and productivity. However, it’s important to remember that while these metrics are valuable tools for evaluation, they should be employed judiciously due to their inherent limitations, so they should be used in conjunction with qualitative assessments to understand a researcher’s contributions to their field fully. For example, they may not accurately represent the quality of research as they rely on citation counts, which can be swayed by various factors. Moreover, these indices are most effective when comparing scholars within the same field, as citation practices vary significantly across different fields.

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