In 1972, Prof. Sir. David R. Cox F.R.S. and statistical deity published one of the all-time great papers1, where he introduced a neat idea into survival analysis which is now called the Cox Proportional Hazards model. Because survival analyses are so important (think medical trials and epidemiology, folks), and because the idea was so good, it has been cited over 21 000 times. In fact, its is do popular that, as Stephen Senn pointed out2, it has amassed a good number of mis-citations too.
I had read Senn’s book, a couple of years ago, and wondered whether that meant the paper could have its own the Hirsch index, h (i.e. the number of papers the scientist has published that have at least h citations each). So, a tedious afternoon was spent trawling through Web of Science, not helped by Cox having published another well mis-cited paper at the same time.
Anyway, the result of all this endeavour was to discover that the mis-citations of the Cox PH paper on their own (i.e. ignoring the correct citation)had gained themselves an h of 12: a level that Hirsch had concluded “…might be a typical value for advancement to tenure…”.
My own h index at the moment is a meagre 9. Which means my contribution to science is being exceeded by a set of misprints. Harrumph.
1 Cox, D.R. (1972) Regression models and life-tables. J. Roy. Statist. Soc. B 34: 187-220.
2 Senn, S. (2003) Dicing with Death p136. CUP, Cambridge, U.K.
3 Hirsch, J.E. (2005) An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output . Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 102: 16569-16572.