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How to Count Citations If You Must


  • Motty Perry
  • Philip J. Reny


Citation indices are regularly used to inform critical decisions about promotion, tenure, and the allocation of billions of research dollars. Nevertheless, most indices (e.g., the h-index) are motivated by intuition and rules of thumb, resulting in undesirable conclusions. In contrast, five natural properties lead us to a unique new index, the Euclidean index, that avoids several shortcomings of the h-index and its successors. The Euclidean index is simply the Euclidean length of an individual's citation list. Two empirical tests suggest that the Euclidean index outperforms the h-index in practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Motty Perry & Philip J. Reny, 2016. "How to Count Citations If You Must," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(9), pages 2722-2741, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:106:y:2016:i:9:p:2722-41
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20140850

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abram Burk, 1936. "Real Income, Expenditure Proportionality, and Frisch's "New Methods of Measuring Marginal Utility"," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 33-52.
    2. Glenn Ellison, 2013. "How Does the Market Use Citation Data? The Hirsch Index in Economics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 63-90, July.
    3. Quesada, Antonio, 2011. "Axiomatics for the Hirsch index and the Egghe index," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 476-480.
    4. Blackorby, Charles & Donaldson, David, 1982. "Ratio-Scale and Translation-Scale Full Interpersonal Comparability without Domain Restrictions: Admissible Social-Evaluation Functions," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 23(2), pages 249-268, June.
    5. Chambers, Christopher P. & Miller, Alan D., 2014. "Scholarly influence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 151(C), pages 571-583.
    6. Woeginger, Gerhard J., 2008. "An axiomatic analysis of Egghe’s g-index," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 364-368.
    7. Thierry Marchant, 2009. "An axiomatic characterization of the ranking based on the h-index and some other bibliometric rankings of authors," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 80(2), pages 325-342, August.
    8. Atkinson, Anthony B., 1970. "On the measurement of inequality," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 244-263, September.
    9. Kaur, Jasleen & Radicchi, Filippo & Menczer, Filippo, 2013. "Universality of scholarly impact metrics," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 924-932.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. RePEc in December 2016, and a look back at 2016
      by Christian Zimmermann in RePEc blog on 2017-01-05 19:53:41
    2. Proposed changes to IDEAS/RePEc ranking: Euclid and outliers
      by Christian Zimmermann in RePEc blog on 2017-04-19 20:51:53


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    Cited by:

    1. Thor-Erik Sandberg Hanssen & Finn Jørgensen & Berner Larsen, 2018. "The relation between the quality of research, researchers’ experience, and their academic environment," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 114(3), pages 933-950, March.
    2. Chih-Sheng Hsieh & Michael D. König & Xiaodong Liu & Christian Zimmermann, 2018. "Superstar Economists: Coauthorship Networks and Research Output," CESifo Working Paper Series 7309, CESifo.
    3. Csató, László, 2019. "Journal ranking should depend on the level of aggregation," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 13(4).
    4. James J. Heckman & Sidharth Moktan, 2020. "Publishing and Promotion in Economics: The Tyranny of the Top Five," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(2), pages 419-470, June.
    5. Lasso de la Vega, Casilda & Volij, Oscar, 2018. "Ranking scholars: A measure representation," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 510-517.
    6. Kim-Sau Chung & Meng-Yu Liang & Melody Lo, 2018. "On the Information Contents of Indirect Citations," IEAS Working Paper : academic research 18-A008, Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
    7. Hsieh, Chih-Sheng & König, Michael & Liu, Xiaodong & Zimmermann, Christian, 2018. "Superstar Economists: Coauthorship networks and research output," CEPR Discussion Papers 13239, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. Diyi Li & Cory Koedel, 2016. "Representation and Salary Gaps by Race/Ethnicity and Gender at Selective Public Universities," Working Papers 1613, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised Apr 2017.
    9. Lutz Bornmann & Klaus Wohlrabe, 2019. "Normalisation of citation impact in economics," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 120(2), pages 841-884, August.
    10. Baumann, Alexendra & Wohlrabe, Klaus, 2019. "Publikationen von Wirtschaftsforschungsinstituten im deutschsprachigen Raum - Eine bibliometrische Analyse
      [Publications of Economic Research Insitutes in the German Speaking Area - A bibliometric
      ," MPRA Paper 92240, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Xiancheng Li & Wenge Rong & Haoran Shi & Jie Tang & Zhang Xiong, 2018. "The impact of conference ranking systems in computer science: a comparative regression analysis," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 116(2), pages 879-907, August.
    12. Ulrich Rendtel, 2019. "Journal-Rankings und Karriere im Fach Statistik an wirtschaftwissenschaftlichen Fakultäten
      [Journal rankings and career in statistics at economic departments]
      ," AStA Wirtschafts- und Sozialstatistisches Archiv, Springer;Deutsche Statistische Gesellschaft - German Statistical Society, vol. 13(2), pages 125-142, September.
    13. L'aszl'o Csat'o, 2019. "Journal ranking should depend on the level of aggregation," Papers 1904.06300,, revised Sep 2019.
    14. Ulrich Schetter, 2019. "A Structural Ranking of Economic Complexity," CID Working Papers 119a, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    15. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2018. "Citations in Economics: Measurement, Uses, and Impacts," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(1), pages 115-156, March.
    16. Azar, Ofer H., 2019. "The influence of psychological game theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 445-453.
    17. Georg, Co-Pierre & Opolot, Daniel & Rose, Michael, 2019. "Discussants," Annual Conference 2019 (Leipzig): 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall - Democracy and Market Economy 203575, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    18. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2019. "Citations and Incentives in Academic Contests," CESifo Working Paper Series 7890, CESifo.
    19. Flores-Szwagrzak, Karol & Treibich, Rafael, 2015. "Co-authorship and the Measurement of Individual Productivity," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 17/2015, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    20. Andersen, Jens Peter, 2017. "An empirical and theoretical critique of the Euclidean index," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 455-465.
    21. Georg, Co-Pierre & Opolot, Daniel C. & Rose, Michael E., 2017. "Informal intellectual collaboration with central colleagues," Kiel Working Papers 2084, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    22. Haley, M. Ryan & McGee, M. Kevin, 2020. "Jointly valuing journal visibility and author citation count: An axiomatic approach," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1).
    23. J. E. Hirsch, 2019. "hα: An index to quantify an individual’s scientific leadership," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 118(2), pages 673-686, February.
    24. Nadia Simoes & Nuno Crespo, 2020. "A flexible approach for measuring author-level publishing performance," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 122(1), pages 331-355, January.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • C43 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Index Numbers and Aggregation


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