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Scientist develops a 'Kardashian index' for overrated researchers

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Not everyone's happy about scientists on social media. University of Liverpool geneticist Neil Hall recently noticed scientists with large Twitter following gaining a seemingly unfair advantage at conferences and in scientific discussions. As a counterbalance, Hall has proposed a "Kardashian index," directly comparing a researcher's Twitter followers to his or her journal citations. As Hall describes it in his paper introducing the index, "I think it’s time that we develop a metric that will clearly indicate if a scientist has an overblown public profile so that we can adjust our expectations of them accordingly."

Hall's paper also delves into the more serious issue of discrimination against female researchers. Taking a small sample, he finds that female scientists had fewer followers than their research would suggest. Thus, "most Kardashians are men," he suggests. Still, the K-index is still in its early days, and there is plenty more research and discussion to be done — much of it on social media. As Hall suggests in his closing line, "if you would like to discuss this further please follow me on Twitter." (He can be found at @neilhall_uk.)