Do You Know Your H-Index?

Proposed in 2005 by Jorge E. Hirsch, a physicist at the University of California, San Diego, the h-index quantifies scientific output as a single statistic based on both the number and impact of a researcher’s publications.1 An h-index of 40 means that a scientist has published 40 papers that each have at least 40 citations. The h-index conveys the broad impact of work over time and never decreases. It is supposed to be insensitive to the extremes of either non-cited papers or “one-hit wonders.” Authors with similar h-index values are theoretically comparable in overall scientific influence, even if their numbers of papers or citations are very different.

Unlike the journal impact factor, the h-index measures accomplishment, not journal performance. It can be used for groups such as scientific facilities or countries (e.g., to compare United States vs. European Union scientists). Hirsch notes that the h-index in biosciences runs higher than in physics. Since different disciplines have different citation patterns, it should be used to compare only scientists of similar professional age working in similar disciplines.

Critics say that h-index does not differentiate between active and inactive scientists or between timely and outdated works. Complementary indices developed by Hirsch and others correct for bias toward researchers with longer careers and more papers; sensitivity to highly cited papers; number of co-authors; and self-citation.

Are you curious about your own h-index? Three HSLS resources—ISI Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar—include the necessary citation data, but finding it is the easiest in ISI Web of Science:

1.    In Search (not Cited Reference Search), search for yourself.


2.    In the search results, click on “Create Citation Report.”


3.    In the Citation Report, h-index is listed to the right of the bar graphs.


Like the journal impact factor, the h-index is vulnerable to citation data flaws. It will be inflated if articles by multiple authors with the same name are not differentiated. Factors that lower it include inaccurate citations, publication in journals not included in ISI Web of Science, and publications other than journal articles.

In separate studies, h-index ’s validity has been variously confirmed by positive correlations with raw citation counts, awarding of major postdoctoral fellowships, and peer judgments. Still, absent definitive validation studies, the h-index, like the journal impact factor, should be kept in perspective as just one component in the assessment of a scientific career.

1 Hirsch J.E. An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 102, no. 46 (2005):16569-16572.

~ Patricia Weiss

Libraries Open at New Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

100_1552aThe Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) is pleased to announce expanded library service at the new Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) of UPMC in Lawrenceville.  Located on the sixth floor of the hospital in the center of family and clinical activity, the bright and spacious Family Resource Center includes separate areas for the Moulis Children’s, Young Adult, and Family Health Libraries as well as the Blaxter Medical Library.

Clinicians and staff will be awed by the new look of the Blaxter Medical Library and its panoramic view of Pittsburgh.  Comfortable chairs and study tables are available throughout, with strategically placed floor outlets for laptop computers.  new-chp-lawrenceville-012aAlso available for clinicians’ use is the addition of a wireless conference room, private study carrels, and a separate open space with seven desktop computers.  New clinical library services also include classes on searching bibliographic databases such as PubMed, CINAHL and Embase,  EndNote training, and HSLS orientation, with other classes to be added over time.  Individual search consultations continue to be available on request.

In keeping with the mission of family-centered care at CHP, library services for families now include a Family Business Center, complete with computers, printer, copier, fax and phone for new-chp-lawrenceville-002afamily members who need a temporary office while their child is hospitalized.  Adults can also relax in a comfortable lounge with a fireplace and solarium stocked with recreational reading materials. CHP features wireless Internet connection throughout, for both family and clinical use. The Moulis Children’s Library continues to offer high-quality children’s books and audiobooks for infants through early readers, while the Young Adult Library houses the latest in young adult fiction and non-fiction books and audiobooks along with computers and a flat-screen television.  At the Family Health Library, families can research their child’s condition, either by browsing our extensive collection or working with an HSLS medical librarian to search for more detailed information.

Visit the CHP libraries Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or call 412-692-5288.

~ Andrea Ketchum

Director's Reflections… Libraries in the Economic Downturn

barbara-2009-alteredLike most other programs in the University and the health center, HSLS has been adversely affected by the ongoing global economic crisis.  Budget support has declined, leading to difficult decisions about collections and services.

We are not alone in this situation.  A recent “hard times” survey by the Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (AAHSL) found that nearly all of the 106 respondents have already experienced or expect to experience budget cuts in the current fiscal year.  The majority expects additional reductions in the coming year.

Health sciences libraries have been especially hard hit by disproportionate price increases for STM (science-technology-medical) journals that have eroded purchasing power over the past several years.  The problem is compounded by the fact that thousands of biomedical research journals are produced by a few “mega-publishers” who bundle numerous titles together in large, online subscription packages.  Many libraries are concerned that reduced funding may force them to drop important titles from smaller publishers because they are locked into multi-year deals with the mega-publishers.

In the past several months, several influential library organizations have issued statements, aimed at scholarly publishers, about the impact of the global economic crisis on libraries.  These include the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).  This month, AAHSL and the Medical Library Association (MLA) jointly issued a statement about collections in health sciences libraries.  These documents urge publishers and vendors to partner with libraries in negotiating flexible licensing terms supportive of continued access to as much content as possible.  They further advocate, not only for price stabilization, but also for real price reductions driven by operational efficiencies, increased reliance on electronic-only publication to reduce overhead for print production, and a wider range of options for contract terms.

HSLS is actively working with vendors and publishers to reduce costs wherever possible.  We carefully monitor usage and cost data to ensure that the resources we offer are the most appropriate for our diverse user population.   We also continue to develop innovative interfaces to help you take advantage of our many resources and services.  And—as always—we welcome your comments and suggestions.

Who’s Using E-books?

Which Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) users are accessing e-books—students, faculty, or clinicians? Do they prefer print or electronic for specific types of books? How should HSLS allocate its financial resources between print books and e-books?

These questions led to a recent online survey of HSLS patrons. 5,293 surveys were distributed, with a response rate of over 16%.  Preliminary findings have begun to expand our knowledge about user preferences, findings that will guide collection development decisions.

Preliminary survey results indicate:

• Survey respondents’ preference for e-books or print books differs depending on the type of book.  More preferred textbooks and manuals in print, while pharmaceutical books and reference books were preferred in electronic form.
• E-books are being used to support research and clinical care.  Of the respondents, 77% of post-docs and 54% of the faculty use e-books in support of research. 75% of attending physicians, 86% of interns, residents and fellows, and 35% of nurses in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) system reported using e-books to support clinical care.
• 62% of University students reported choosing e-books to support class assignments, but only 12% of faculty members reported assigning readings from e-books to their students.
• HSLS users prefer e-books for quick reference or short reading tasks.
• The feature of e-books most valued by HSLS users is the ability to search the full text of a book.  Not surprisingly, the HSLS full-text e-book search was the most favorably rated of the 5 e-book discovery tools on the HSLS Web site.

As findings continue to be examined, more decisions can be made about the purchase of electronic versus print books. The principle investigator of the study, Barbara Folb, comments in her initial report, “The survey results support further development and promotion of the e-book collection, but not wholesale removal of the print collection from the shelves.  Respondents value both formats, and make pragmatic choices based on issues of time, accessibility, and availability at point of need in choosing between print and e-books.”

The survey was created and administered by Barbara Folb, with consultation from Leslie Czechowski and Charles Wessel. Folb is on leave from her faculty librarian position at HSLS to pursue a Master’s of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

~ Leslie Czechowski and Barbara Folb

The Evidence Behind Point of Care Products

At this year’s annual Medical Library Association conference, we reported on the results of our study which examined the type of evidence used to support content in some commonly used Point of Care (POC) products.  The five POC products included in the study were UpToDate, Clinical Evidence, ACP PIER, DynaMed, and FIRSTConsult.  The references from four topical monographs—hypertension, hyperlipidemia, carbon monoxide poisoning, and asthma—were analyzed in each POC product. The objective was to determine the level of evidence1 of each of the references; for example, a systematic review publication has a higher level of evidence than a practice guideline, which in turn is higher than a case report.

The results indicated FIRSTConsult used the largest proportion of publication types deemed to be higher levels of evidence to support its topical monographs. Clinical Evidence followed, with ACP PIER and DynaMed next, yielding similar total combined results, and finally UpToDate. Figure 1 demonstrates combined topical references for each product organized by publication type.

Figure 1:

An unexpected finding in this study was the limited overlap between references across products.  The 4 subject monographs in all POC products yielded 2,330 references. Only 2 references were found in all 5 products. Only 4 references out of 2,330 were found in 4 products, 25 references in 3 products, and 161 references in two products. A total of 1,906 were found in only 1 of the POC products.

Figure 2 shows the breakdown of citations for each product combining all five topics into groupings by date. For most of the POC products, the majority of citations were from the pre–2001 time period and the fewest number of citations were from 2007–2009.  As seen in Figure 2, some of the POC products had a much larger percentage of older literature as compared to other products.

Figure 2:
Readers should interpret our findings with some limitations in mind: relatively few topics were analyzed, and the type of research published is likely to vary depending on the topic. Also, despite efforts to categorize the citations by publication types as objectively as possible, some designations had to be subjective.

~ Andrea Ketchum and Ahlam Saleh
1 Guyatt G., Haynes B., Jaeschke R., et al., “The Philosophy of Evidence-Based Medicine.” In: Users’ Guides to the Medical Literature: A Manual for Evidence-Based Clinical Practice, ed.  G. Guyett  and D. Rennie, 9-16. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical, 2008.

Medpedia: A New Authoritative Medical Wiki

medpedia1Medpedia is a medical online wiki launched in beta this past February to provide information about health, medicine and the body.  It uses the Wikipedia model, but unlike Wikipedia, the content is written and edited by physicians and PhDs. Anyone can suggest a change, but the changes are reviewed by an editor before anything is made live on the site.

Medpedia suggests that users of this online encyclopedia will “include physicians, consumers, medical and scientific journals, medical schools, research institutes, medical associations, hospitals, for-profit and non-profit organizations, expert patients, policy makers, students, non-professionals taking care of loved ones, individual medical professionals, scientists, etc.”

The development of Medpedia is in association with the Harvard Medical School, Stanford School of Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School and the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health, as well as other global health organizations. The goal is to be a “repository of up-to-date unbiased medical information, contributed and maintained by health experts and freely available to everyone.”

The site continues to grow and hopes to add additional information about known diseases and conditions, drugs and medical procedures.

Parts of this article were reprinted from Medpedia.

~ Nancy Tannery

Head of Molecular Biology Information Service Lectures in India

chattopadhyay-ansuman-w_cap1In March, Ansuman Chattopadhyay, head of the Health Sciences Library System’s Molecular Biology Information Service, traveled to Delhi, India, to lecture at the International Workshop on Psychiatric Genetics, Ethics and Related Methodological Issues. In addition to Chattopadhyay, other presenters included faculty from the University of Pittsburgh, University of Pennsylvania and University of Virginia, as well as the director of India’s Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD).

Over fifty clinicians and researchers from throughout India attended the two-day workshop. Program topics included ethics, cognitive research, distance education, genetic counseling, genetics, measurement of cognitive functions and soft signs, statistical methodology analysis, and bioinformatics.

Chattopadhyay’s lecture, “Online Resources for Psychiatric Genetics,” covered basic PubMed searching, identifying disease-causing genes, finding gene and protein-centered information, and predicting disease-causing SNPs.

The training program is supported through a five-year grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, John E. Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in the Health Sciences. The principal investigator is Vishwajit Nimgaonkar, associate professor of human genetics at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic.

~ Jill Foust

Relocation of WPIC Library Collection Now Complete

Although the Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic (WPIC) Library is no longer a physical location, its collections remain available to faculty, staff, and students. Books and journals are housed either in Falk Library of the Health Sciences or in the Health Sciences Library System’s (HSLS) storage facility.

Locations of WPIC materials in Falk Library:

• The reference collection is located on the main floor next to the Falk Library reference collection, with the same WPIC call numbers.
• The circulating collection is on the main floor in the left rear corner, with the same WPIC call numbers. In PITTCat for the Health Sciences, the location reads: “Falk Library – Psychiatry Collection – 200 Scaife Hall.”
• Many WPIC journals published after 1990 have been integrated into the Falk Library journal collection. In PITTCat, the location reads: “Falk Library – Periodicals – 200 Scaife Hall.”

Materials in storage can be requested via Document Delivery. In PITTCat, the location reads: “HSLS Storage – Request via HSLS Service Requests.”

Many unique materials produced by WPIC faculty and staff have historical value and were temporarily moved to Falk Library storage, where they will be processed and then made available to the public.

For further assistance on locating materials from the former WPIC Library, please contact the Falk Library reference desk at 412-648-8796 or Ask A Librarian.

~ Leslie Czechowski

New Online Resource: AMA Manual of Style

amaThe AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, 10th edition, is now available online to HSLS users. The online edition contains information needed by medical and scientific researchers, writers, and editors to produce well-organized, clear, readable, and authoritative manuscripts.

The Manual’s home page allows you to navigate quickly and intuitively. You can use the quick search feature, which searches the full text of the Manual, or you can navigate using the left-side menu to jump to any section of the Manual.

To access this resource, type “AMA Manual of Style” in the search.HSLS box on the HSLS home page. For questions, contact a reference librarian.

Parts of this article were reprinted from AMA Manual of Style.

~ Jill Foust

HSLS Schedule of Classes July–August 2009

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, bibliographic management, molecular biology and genetics, and library orientations.  For more information visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in classroom 1 and conference room B, and on the second floor in the Computer and Media Center classroom 2.
All classes are open to faculty, staff and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

Some classes are also held in the Conference Room at UPMC Shadyside Libraries for UPMC Shadyside physicians, staff, and students.

No registration is required for any of these classes.  Seating for classes is first-come, first-served, until the class is full.  Classes marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for American Medical Association Category 2 continuing education credit.  Class schedules are subject to change.  Please consult the online class calendar for the most current information.


Introduction to HSLS Resources and Services at Falk Library
(Meet inside entrance to Library)
Offered upon request to groups or individuals. Call 412-648-8796.

Introduction to HSLS Resources and Services at UPMC Shadyside Libraries
Offered upon request to groups or individuals. Call 412-623-2415.


PubMed Basics*
Tuesday, July 14        1-2:30 p.m.    (Falk Library Classroom 1)
Tuesday, July 14        3:30-5 p.m.    (Conference Room at UPMC Shadyside Libraries)
Tuesday, August 11    9:30-11 a.m.  (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Searching EBSCOHost CINAHL* (Falk Library Classroom 1)
Tuesday, August 4      11a.m.-12:30 p.m.


Pathway Analysis Tools I* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, July 8            1-3 p.m.

Pathway Analysis Tools II* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, July 15          1-3 p.m.

Microarray Data Analysis* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, July 29          1-3 p.m.

DNA Analysis Tools* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, August 12      1-3 p.m.


EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)
(Note: This class is usually full.  Please arrive 15 minutes in advance to ensure seating.)
Wednesday, July 8               1-3 p.m.
Thursday, July 23                10 a.m.-noon
Thursday, August 13            10 a.m.-noon

Adobe Photoshop for Beginners (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Thursday, July 9                  10 a.m.-noon
Thursday, August 13            10 a.m.-noon

PowerPoint for Beginners
Thursday, July 16                10 a.m.-noon (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Tuesday, August 4               11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (Conference Room at UPMC
                                          Shadyside Libraries)

PowerPoint for Beginners and Advanced PowerPoint (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Thursday, August 27            10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The WOW Factor: PowerPoint for Posters (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Tuesday, July 7                   10-11:30 a.m.


These informal, brown-bag lunches are held in Falk Library Conference Room B. Bring your own lunch. Drinks and dessert are provided. For more information, visit the online descriptions.

CME for Free!

Thursday, July 9                 Noon-1 p.m.

It’s Good to Share: Collaboration Made Easier with Web-Based Tools
Wednesday, July 22            Noon-1 p.m.

Thursday @ Three Library Information Series
These informal sessions are held in UPMC Shadyside Libraries’ Conference Room.

Searching for Nursing Articles using CINAHL
Thursday, July 16                3-4 p.m.

The Search for Evidence: Locating Evidence-Based Health Care Information
Thursday, August 13           3-4 p.m.


Customized classes can be developed for your department, course, or other group.


These online tutorials provide information on getting started at HSLS, focusing on the Web site and popular resources.

HSLS Staff News

The HSLS Staff News section includes recent HSLS presentations, publications, staff changes, staff promotions, degrees earned, etc.


Carrie Iwema, information specialist in Molecular Biology, was named chair of the Medical Library Association/Medical Informatics Section (MLA/MIS) Career Development Grant Jury for 2009-10.

On Saturday, May 9, HSLS staff members joined with other community volunteers to plant flowers in Shadyside through the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Community Garden Planting Days.

HSLS Participation at the Medical Library Association (MLA) Annual Conference
Honolulu, Hawaii, May 15-20, 2009

Melissa Ratajeski, reference librarian, was an official blogger for the meeting’s Official Blog. Ratajeski was also the convener for the MLA special interest group on Institutional Animal Care and Use.

Contributed Paper Presentations
Mary Jo Dorsey, reference librarian presented “A model of primary care physicians’ consumer health information-seeking behaviors:  working with elderly patients and their caregivers.”

Nancy H. Tannery, associate director for user services presented “Development of a clinical information tool for the electronic health record.” Co-authors were Barbara A. Epstein, director; Frances Yarger, assistant director for computer services; Charles B. Wessel, head of hospital services; John O. LaDue, knowledge integration librarian; and Anthony B. Fiorillo, medical director, ambulatory eRecord, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Carrie Iwema, molecular biology information specialist presented “Measuring our success: assessment of a library-based specialized information service.”

Ahlam Saleh, reference librarian presented “The evidence behind current point-of-care products: a citation analysis.” Co-author was Andrea Ketchum, reference librarian.

Poster Presentations
Mary Jo Dorsey, reference librarian, “Primary care physicians’ consumer health information-seeking behaviors: a model for working with elderly depressed patients and their caregivers.”

Barbara A. Epstein, director; Nancy H. Tannery, associate director for user services; Charles B. Wessel, head of hospital services; Frances Yarger, assistant director for computer services; John LaDue, knowledge integration librarian, “An Innovative Clinical Information Portal.”


Rebecca Abromitis, reference librarian, coauthored a poster that won the “Impact of Nursing on Practice” award during the UPMC 2009 Nurses Week Celebration, April 28-30, 2009. Research for the poster “Non-Pharmacological Therapeutic Techniques to Decrease Agitation in the Geriatric-Psychiatric Patient with Dementia in a Psychiatric Hospital Setting” was conducted as part of the Nursing Evidence-Based Practice and Research Council at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. Sharing the award are poster coauthors Georgia Patterson1, Lynn Boucek1, Michelle Cain1, Laurel Chiappetta2, and Ann Mitchell3.

1 WPIC Nursing Evidence-Based Practice and Research Council member;
2 University of Pittsburgh Department of Statistics faculty;
3 University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing faculty.


John Erlen, history of medicine librarian, published “Disability studies dissertation abstracts” in The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal, 5(1):46-48, 2009 and “Dissertations” in AVISTA Forum Journal, 18(1/2):122-131, 2008.

Melissa Ratajeski, reference librarian, co-authored “New Special Interest Groups (SIGs)” in MLA News, 414:22, March 2009.


pat-bookamyer-ret-2009-001bPat Bookamyer, administrative assistant in the Health Sciences Library System’s (HSLS) Office of the Director, retired from the University in April after almost 20 years. In her role as administrative assistant, she utilized her many skills in support of the Director and the operation of HSLS. Bookamyer also volunteered to serve as HSLS United Way representative for 19 years.

A notable memory for Bookamyer was witnessing the growth of staff and services at HSLS over the past two decades. She will also miss her many friends in HSLS.

Bookamyer, and her husband Dan, relocated to York, S.C., where she looks forward to relaxing, gardening and catching up on her reading. She also plans to spend more time with her three grandchildren.

We wish Pat a happy retirement!