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Retaining, resigning and firing: bibliometrics as a people analytics tool for examining research performance outcomes and faculty turnover

James C. Ryan (Department of Management, Alfaisal University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 27 October 2020

Issue publication date: 29 June 2021




The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the use of bibliometric indicators as a people analytics tool for examining research performance outcome differences in faculty mobility and turnover.


Employing bibliometric information from research databases, the publication, citations, h-index and newly developed individual annualized h-index (hIa-index) for a sample of university faculty is examined (N = 684). Information relating to turnover decisions from a human resource (HR) information system and bibliometric data from a research database are combined to explore research performance differences across cohorts of retained, resigned or terminated faculty over a five-year period in a single university.


Analysis of variance (ANOVA) results indicate traditional bibliometric indicators of h-index, publication count and citation count which are limited in their ability to identify performance differences between employment status cohorts. Results do show some promise for the newly developed hIa-index, as it is found to be significantly lower for terminated faculty (p < 0.001), as compared to both retained and resigned faculty. Multinomial logistic regression analysis also confirms the hIa metric as a predictor of terminated employment status.

Research limitations/implications

First, the results imply that the hIa-index, which controls for career length and elements of coauthorship is a superior bibliometric indicator for comparison of research performance.

Practical implications

Results suggest that the hIa metric may serve as a useful tool for the examination of employment decisions for universities. It also highlights the potential usefulness of bibliometric indicators for people analytics and the examination of employment decisions, performance management and faculty turnover in research-intensive higher education contexts.


This empirical paper is entirely unique. No research has previously examined the issue of turnover in a university setting using the bibliometric measures employed here. This is a first example of the potential use of hIa bibliometric index as an HR analytics tool for the examination of HR decisions such as employee turnover in the university context.



Ryan, J.C. (2021), "Retaining, resigning and firing: bibliometrics as a people analytics tool for examining research performance outcomes and faculty turnover", Personnel Review, Vol. 50 No. 5, pp. 1316-1335.



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