Distribution of within-discipline residuals of the relationship between Arel and loge years publishing by discipline (ARC = archaeology, CHM = chemistry, ECO = ecology, EVO = evolution and development, GEO = geology, MIC = microbiology, OPH = ophthalmology, PAL = palaeontology), each comprising 60 researchers (30 ♀, 30 ♂). Right panel: Distribution of among-discipline residuals. (Credit:Corey Bradshaw/Flinders University)

A new study co-authored by SFI archaeologist Stefani Crabtree, led by Corey Bradshaw at Flinders University, presents a tool to assess research performance more fairly than the pervasive H-index score, which is commonly used to make hiring decisions in academia.

Called the Epsilon Index, named for the Greek letter ε used to symbolize residuals in statistics, the new metric takes into account the many differences in the research space to deliver a fairer comparison. The tool is freely available as a ready-made app — simply punch in a few data for a sample of researchers from open-source databases like Google Scholar, and it does the heavy lifting to produce the result, enabling comparison of researchers at any stage of their career and from any discipline on the same scale.

"This not only levels the playing field for women and early career professionals, but also enables comparisons of researchers across disciplines—an inherently hard task,” says Crabtree. “As we move toward more multidisciplinary approaches in research, we need better ways to assess the work people do."

[Adapted from a Flinder University press release]

Read the paper, “A fairer way to compare researchers at any career stage and in any discipline using open-access citation data,” in PLoS One (September 10, 2021)

Read the article in Times Higher Education (September 11, 2021)