Background: Bibliometric indices are proposed measures to quantitatively and qualitatively evaluate scholarly output within academic medicine. The authors sought to validate bibliometric indices as an indicator of academic productivity within plastic surgery and their association with promotion of faculty surgeons in academic practice.
Methods: The authors examined faculty members (n=127) from the 10 accredited plastic surgery training institutions with the most graduates currently in academic practice. As a measure of content validity, the authors included past winners of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons Research Achievement Award (n=8). Individual bibliometric indices, including h-index, contemporary h-index, and g-index, were calculated. An h-index of 10 indicates that a surgeon has 10 publications with at least 10 citations per article. Cutoff values for academic promotion were calculated using receiver operating characteristic curves.
Results: Bibliometric indices, including h-index, g-index, contemporary h-index, and number of peer-reviewed publications, increased with academic rank and were highest among American Association of Plastic Surgeons Research Achievement Award winners. Cutoffs for promotion to associate and professor ranks were as follows: h-index, 8.5 and 14.5; g-index, 14.5 and 27.5; contemporary h-index, 5.5 and 9.5; and number of publications, 29.5 and 48, respectively. After controlling for fellowship training and advanced degrees, h-index was most strongly correlated with promotion to associate (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.32) and full professor (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.06 to 1.29). Total number of publications was least predictive of promotion.
Conclusion: Bibliometric indices predict promotion in academic surgery and provide a useful metric for surgeons embarking on a career in academia.