hα: The Scientist as Chimpanzee or Bonobohα: The Scientist as Chimpanzee or Bonobo

by   Loet Leydesdorff, et al.

In a recent paper, Hirsch (2018) proposes to attribute the credit for a co-authored paper to the α-author--the author with the highest h-index--regardless of his or her actual contribution, effectively reducing the role of the other co-authors to zero. The indicator hα inherits most of the disadvantages of the h-index from which it is derived, but adds the normative element of reinforcing the Matthew effect in science. Using an example, we show that hα can be extremely unstable. The empirical attribution of credit among co-authors is not captured by abstract models such as h, h_bar , or hα.


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