We read with great interest the editorial by Thompson and Watson (2010) which stimulated some considerations. The authors stress the growing importance of the h-index in the evaluation of academic performance in the biomedical disciplines. Therefore, this index of reference cannot be ignored by nursing science either. However, the authors observe that, even if the h-indices reached by the most authoritative professors of nursing in the UK were generally notable, they were in almost all the cases below 20, the mark set by Hirsch as the indicator of academic success. A situation similar to the one highlighted by Thompson and Watson (2010) is also found in Italy. Table 1 shows the nine highest h-indices (using Web of Science) of Italian professors of nursing (from a total of 28 professors) for the period from June 2000–June 2010.

Table 1.   h-Indices of Italian professors of nursing 2000–2010
Paola Di GiulioUniversity of Turin8
Filippo FestiniUniversity of Florence4
Alvisa PaleseUniversity of Udine3
Julita SansoniLa Sapienza University of Rome3
Ercole VelloneLa Sapienza University of Rome3
Paolo ChiariUniversity of Bologna2
Maria Grazia De MarinisCampus Biomedico University, Rome2
Luisa SaianiUniversity of Verona2
Loredana SassoUniversity of Genoa2

Nursing has only been taught in Italian universities for 13 years, and the first professors of nursing were only appointed in 2000. Nonetheless, scientific activity in this field is constantly growing. However, most of the scientific production is published in Italian and it thus has fewer possibilities to be cited in international articles (Zanotti 1999, Pecile & Zanotti 2002, Destrebecq & Terzoni 2010). The Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research has recently issued a call for proposals to award research grants in which Chief Investigators are required to have an h-index of 25. Such a high standard makes it difficult, if not impossible, for research projects on nursing to have access to funding, thus possibly slowing down the growth of nursing research. Even if nursing cannot escape the universal criteria for academic evaluation, it is worth reminding ourselves that it is a younger discipline than others in the biomedical field. It is for this reason that we agree with Thompson and Watson (2010) that we should establish a different h-index level of reference for nursing and for different geographical areas – at least on a temporary basis. In our opinion, this may help encourage the development of nursing research in the academic setting.


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  2. References
  • Destrebecq A & Terzoni S (2010) State of research in various countries. Italy. Recherche en soins infirmiers 100, 5759.
  • Pecile A & Zanotti R (2002) Nursing research in Italy, 1998–2001. Professioni infermieristiche 55, 130143.
  • Thompson DR & Watson R (2010) Guest Editorial: h-indices and the performance of professors of nursing in the UK. Journal of Clinical Nursing 19, 29572958.
  • Zanotti R (1999) Nursing research in Italy. Annual Review of Nursing Research 17, 295322.