Monday, May 18, 2009

Research productivity at Hogwarts

The Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry is known primarily as a teaching institution. However, it is important to realize that like all cutting edge academic institutions, research is an important part of the school’s mission, and teachers there are expected to produce novel and important research commensurate to their position. Here we examine the publication record of a few key teachers at the school.

Let’s start with Professor Minerva McGonagall. As head of a house, there is no doubt that Professor McGonagall has a steadfast service reputation. And she seems to be an adequate teacher. But when it comes to publication, she is sorely underperforming:


We would expect more from the quiet, bookish Professor Sprout. Unlike McGonagall, she doesn’t waste her precious research time chasing Death Eaters, working with admin, or counseling students. And sure enough, she has several dozen publications, and is one of the more productive members of the faculty:

Professor Snape combines McGonagall’s exemplary service record with Professor Sprouts’s love of subject matter and attention to detail. And as Google Scholar shows, this has had a fantastic result on his productivity. He has more papers than the rest of the staff combined:


No wonder that he perennially feels overlooked, put-upon, and underappreciated; his grants are probably keeping half the school afloat.

One possible interpretation of these data anecdotes are that evil is conducive to research. A quick check of Lord Voldemort suggests that this is not the case, but one has to be careful. As previous articles here in the lounge have noted, Google Scholar is particularly insensitive to women who change their name. Although Voldemort is not a woman, the same name changing issues may effect him, so it is likely that he may adopt the habits of many female professors by publishing under his ‘maiden’ name, Tom Riddle:



I wonder how the citation index rates them all?

9 comments:

ScienceWoman said...

Awesome. But, as we tell our students, google (scholar) is not the definitive way to find publications. Still, lolz.

Schlupp said...

He, Sprout is head of Hufflepuff, so she does service!

Kate said...

I love it! And yes, being head of house definitely constitutes significant service!

It would be interesting to compare academic magicians with industry magicians. Wonder if Mr. Weasley published anywhere?

Schlupp said...

Ok, now I checked citations in WoS.

Since I do not know Snape's middle name, I took all papers of snape, s*. (Just taking "snape, s" gives almost the same.) WoS has 37 papers, so quite a few of the ones in google seem to be useless, sorry, valuable in their own way of course, proceedings papers. They were cited 281 times and Snape has an h-index of 9. He publishes on an impressive range of subjects, from geosciences to history.

"Sprout, p*" yields three papers, all of them in the "Canadian Journal of Soil Science", which seems reasonable enough for Herbology. Cited 43 times, h-index 3. Is all old stuff from the 60ies and 70ies, though. Oh, and her middle name seems to begin with n.

I still wouldn't recommend Snape as a thesis advisor!

Schlupp said...

Say, LL, your idea about evil is scarily on the mark: The Malfoy-clan seems to publish quite a lot, however, none of the initials match known (to me, at least) members of the family.

And in my previous comment, I forgot to include "Riddle, T M". 11 papers on virology (HIV/AIDS research) and some other bio topics. Cited 584 times, h-index 6. While Voldemort would hardly leave off his middle name, co-authors are of course sometimes sloppy, so I also looked into "Riddle, T" in addition. Broadens the research a bit into veterinary stuff, gives us 824 citations and h-index 8.

ScienceWoman said...

Unsurprisingly, dumbledore, a* gives us nothing in web of science. He's either too good to publish or too busy running Hogwarts. Did he move to administration to hide his lack of research prowess?

Chuck said...

Since I don't blog from work, accessing $$-walled indicies is not an option.

If you want to see a know-it-all student show up all her teachers, though, try searching for H-Granger...

Also, Mr. Weasley is government, not industry (unless you were referring to the twins).

Schlupp said...

"Since I don't blog from work, accessing $$-walled indices is not an option."

Which is why we are helpfully looking up these data ourselves.
"Granger H J": 230 papers, 7285 citations, h-index 45.

Successful Researcher: How to Become One said...

:)