Distribution of the h-index in radiation oncolgy conforms to a variation of power law: Implications for assessing academic productivity

Matthew R. Quigley, Emma B. Holliday, Clifton D. Fuller, Mehee Choi, Charles R. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Scopus citations


Leaders of academic institutions evaluate academic productivity when deciding to hire, promote, or award resources. This study examined the distribution of the h-index, an assessment of academic standing, among radiation oncologists. The authors collected h-indices for 826 US academic radiation oncologists from a commercial bibliographic database (SCOPUS, Elsevier B.V., NL). Then, logarithmic transformation was performed on h-indices and ranked h-indices, and results were compared to estimates of a power law distribution. The h-index frequency distribution conformed to both the log-linear variation of a power law (r2=.99) and the beta distribution with the same fitting exponents as previously described in a power law analysis of the productivity of neurosurgeons. Within radiation oncology, as in neurosurgery, there are exceedingly more faculty with an h-index of 1-2. The distribution fitting the same variation of a power law within two fields suggests applicability to other areas of academia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-466
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012



  • Bibliometrics
  • Productivity
  • Radiation oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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