The interactive citation analysis tool Tenurometer has taken the measure of academics around the world and, according to their calculations, French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu comes out on top, edging out Noam Chomsky and Jean Piaget, who pick up the silver and the bronze.
Well, not quite… That’s what appears in the “g-index” ratings, which give more weight to publications with many citations — though Bourdieu and Chomsky are running neck and neck. In the “h-index,” Bourdieu is well ahead of the rest of the pack. But certain key details — like describing Chomsky’s field as “religion,” a topic he pretty studiously avoids, or the fact that there’s a suspicious overrepresentation of computer scientists on the list, or that once I’ve conducted a search on someone, that name mysteriously appears in the top 50 list (with the disconcerting exceptions of Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, and Karl Marx!), and if I search for the same person twice, I get different results — make it all a little less than convincing.
It seems that Tenurometer is still a work in progress, being both continually revised and continually added to, in Wikipedia fashion. As the FAQ page explains, “Tenurometer leverages the wisdom of the crowds to collect data about the various disciplines. The data will be made publicly available.” So in addition to the obvious incompleteness of the database, the disciplinary tags — which are used for the discipline-specific “h_f index,” will, for now at least, be particularly unreliable.
But this means that as of today, the top 50 G-list now includes David Harvey, Gilles Deleuze, Martin Heidegger, Paul Ehrlich, and a handful of others, only because I searched for them. (And it fails to include Foucault, as mentioned, or Malinowski, Marx, and Freud.) Over the same several minutes I’ve been at it, I’ve also noticed Humberto Maturana’s and J. J. Gibson’s names appear — so someone else searched for them. You can even follow the additions on Twitter.
So: here’s an invitation to readers to download Tenurometer to your browsers and start searching for your favorite authors, so that they can each get added to the database — and a warning to tenure review committees not to take this tool very seriously, at least until it gets filled in with a lot more detail. (I also haven’t looked into what information it collects from you once you download it, so download at your own discretion.)
For now, Bourdieu remains in the lead, in both the G and H races. For more info, see Inside Higher Ed‘s story on it.