Advertisement
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences

Introducing the “K Index”

The Kardashian Index reflects how a scientist’s social media presence stacks up against her citation record.

By | July 30, 2014

FLICKR, ANDREAS ELDHWhich matter more, citations or retweets? To address this, genomicist Neil Hall from the University of Liverpool in the U.K. has proposed what he calls the Kardashian Index (K Index), a “measure of discrepancy between a scientist’s social media profile and publication record based on the direct comparison of numbers of citations and Twitter followers.” Hall described the so-called K Index in Genome Biology today (July 30).

“Consider Kim Kardashian,” Hall wrote in his paper; “she comes from a privileged background and, despite having not achieved anything consequential in science, politics or the arts . . . she is one of the most followed people on Twitter and among the most searched-for person on Google.”

(If at this point, dear reader, you are scratching your head wondering who Kardashian is, you’re not alone. She is a reality TV star with millions of fans and online followers. As Hall put it, “If Kim Kardashian commented on the value of the ENCODE project, her tweet would get more retweets and favorites than the rest of the scientific community combined.”)

To Hall’s mind, Kardashian is celebrated simply for being famous. And he suggested that the same phenomenon might apply within the scientific community.

“I am concerned that phenomena similar to that of Kim Kardashian may also exist in the scientific community,” he wrote in his paper. “I think it is possible that there are individuals who are famous for being famous (or, to put it in science jargon, renowned for being renowned).”

The K Index is a calculation of the number of Twitter followers a scientists has divided by the number of followers she’d be expected to have based on her citation record.

However, not all scientists agree that the K Index is accurate. “I think we’re coming dangerously close to making judgements about quality, and what we’re actually measuring is citations,” Mick Watson from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute wrote at his blog—“they’re not the same thing!”

One thing that’s likely to hold true, however, is that Twitter discussions about Hall’s paper will bolster his own K Index: “A few tweets linking me with the word ‘Kardashian’ should put my K-index through the roof,” he wrote.

Advertisement

Add a Comment

Avatar of: You

You

Processing...
Processing...

Sign In with your LabX Media Group Passport to leave a comment

Not a member? Register Now!

LabX Media Group Passport Logo

Comments

Avatar of:

Posts: 1

July 30, 2014

Excuse me... "...this phenomena may also exist..." Let's look the truth right in the face and simply admit it. This phenomena has been around in science since ages! Just look at how many papers from "big labs" are accepted in top journal just because there are famous names on them? And how each conference splits itself into the subgroups of "famous" scientists hanging out together and not letting the unfamous ones come near them? Bowing to the famous is a universal human phenomena and scientists are but humans. No matter how we wish to call ourselves "Übermensch" we are no better than anyone else. By the way I am a scientist myself, to make things just.

Popular Now

  1. The Mycobiome
    Features The Mycobiome

    The largely overlooked resident fungal community plays a critical role in human health and disease.

  2. Antibody Alternatives
    Features Antibody Alternatives

    Nucleic acid aptamers and protein scaffolds could change the way researchers study biological processes and treat disease.

  3. Holding Their Ground
    Features Holding Their Ground

    To protect the global food supply, scientists want to understand—and enhance—plants’ natural resistance to pathogens.

  4. Circadian Clock and Aging
    Daily News Circadian Clock and Aging

    Whether a critical circadian clock gene is deleted before or after birth impacts the observed aging-related effects in mice.

Advertisement
Bio-Rad
Bio-Rad
Advertisement
Life Technologies