I humbly present the novel c-index

Posted by Adrian Barnett on Monday, November 23, 2020

Show me the shortcut

Scientists are busy people. Busy people love a short-cut because it gives them more time to be busy.

The p-value is a well-used scientific short-cut. It can decide for us whether something is important or not, and it’s based on an equation so it must be right.

Another heaven-sent shortcut is the h-index which allows us to decide the careers of researchers based on just one number (also made by an equation). How does it work? Well the higher your h-index the better scientist you are because it counts the number of highly cited papers you have. If you have a h-index of 50 that means you’ve published 50 papers with 50 or more citations, simples.

What’s that you say? What about co-authored papers? What about the fact that most citations are just filler? What about the fact that older scientists have higher h-index’s just by virtue of being alive longer? What about the quality of the work rather than the quantity? What about scientists who greedily self-cite?

Sorry, we don’t have time to answer those questions.

One index to rule them all

Okay, so I admit there are some semi-serious problems with the h-index. Which is why I’ve invented a new index called the c-index, short for the cartoon-index. (I will consider naming it the equally catchy abc-index for the “Adrian Barnett Cartoon index” if there’s enough public pressure.)

How is it calculated? Simple, it’s the number of cartoons that have been drawn about your research. Cartoons show genuine engagement with your work, and so are a true measure on non-academic impact. The phrase “Holy Grail” is over-used in science, but objectively measuring non-academic impact into one single number is surely a Holy Grail.

This new index will likely come to dominate the science of scientific index making from today, which is also known as “Scientoshortcuts”.

What’s my c-index?

I have an outstanding c-index of 3. With cartoons by First Dog on the Moon, Cathy Wilcox (I can’t find a link, but trust me), and Science-In-Doses.

Only a fool would invent an index for which they have a score of zero, unless it’s a retraction index.

Future improvements

Of course the c-index is not quite perfect, I anticipate adaptations that incorporate the sentiment of the cartoon, the readership size where the cartoon was published, and the number of colours used.

Researchers like Hilda Bastian who draw their own cartoons will be disqualified. So it’s already better than the h-index which includes self-citations.

Farewell to the h-index

So farewell to the h-index, you’ve had a good run. We shall wave you goodbye using our middle - not index - finger.