An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output – by Misha Donohoe

The field of bibliometrics employs statistical analyses of written publications in order to quantify the impact of a field, research institution or individual researcher.  In 2005, J.E. Hirsch of U of California proposed the h-index* (or Hirsch index) to quantify the cumulative impact of an individual’s scientific research output. It was developed to provide a focussed snapshot of an individual’s research performance.

In 2011 Google introduced an automatically-calculated h-index for researchers to include on their Google Scholar profile. Google also expanded on the h-index with the i10-index to calculate the number of publications by a specific author with at least ten citations from other researchers.

This poem is a cautionary tale about the loss of contextual information and identity in the age of metadata. I constructed the poem to mimic the automated tables on Google Scholar,  which include an h-index that varies depending on the search engine or database calculating it. The poem shows citations to “my articles” but upon inspection, the reader discovers that all reference to the individual has been removed. Where information about the title and author should be, lines of the poem describe the internal repercussions of the modern research imperative “publish or perish”.

Post script:

In 1934 mathematician Simon Kuznets delivered a report to US Congress on how to respond to the Great Depression. In this report Kuznets proposed the modern concept of GDP, but also warned against using GDP as a proxy for societal welfare or happiness.

*J.E. Hirsch, An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output, PNAS, Nov 15, 2005. 102(46) 16569–16572

Misha Donohoe bio:
Born 1983, Sydney, Australia. Lives and works Whitehorse, Yukon.

Misha Donohoe creates beautiful, intricate and scientifically observed works utilising a range of media including graphite, watercolour, gouache, prints, calligraphic texts, film, sound, performance and installation.

Donohoe’s work manifests a lifelong curiosity with natural systems and is unique in its embodiment of elastic perception. From the preoccupations of the smallest bug, to those of the scientific mind, and to the expansive experience of the largest land formation, her works invite contemplation of the other in nature.

“Intellect. Reason. Sensation. Intuition. All are paths to truth, and these truths combine to form an intricate web of awareness. I aim to tell part of this story through the work I create.” – Misha Donohoe

web.  mishfish.com

social.  @mishaleena [twitter | tumblr | insta]

Mish Fish [facebook | linked-in]

gallery.  Yukon Artists @ Work