The value of RePEc — an introduction

September 13, 2014

I am Thomas Krichel the principal founder of RePEc. This is my second  contribution here. I plan to write more in the com on fundamental aspects of RePEc. And I’ll give some explanation about RePEc history. My particular expertise is how RePEc came about.

Today let me try to say something about the value of RePEc. In some, though not all aspects, RePEc is a digital and open equivalent of what librarians have long been calling abstracting and indexing (A&I) databases. A&I data is must common of academic journal literature. It lists descriptive information about journal articles past and present. These days, such databases appear to be of declining value. Librarians have been canceling with the argument that users want full text, not just an abstract. Here the description of the paper is a poor (wo)man’s version of the document itself, which of course would have that description. For WoPEc‐-the forerunner of RePEc‐-I took the opposite view. The full-text location was simply an attribute of the description of the paper.

In the early 90s, when I started the work on WoPEc, the fact that anything was freely available on the web was seen with some suspicion. I recall a radio comment at that time, about some company, and the comment about them was something like “They are now on the Internet, which is a euphemism for saying that they gone out of business”. Among economists in particular, the notion that free means cheap and cheap means bad, seemed to have a lot of appeal. Therefore I was keen that RePEc should not just be cheaper, but also be better than existing A&I databases. In 1998, I started to work on the key component of that vision, the RePEc Author Service. I designed the service and my student Markus J.R. Klink implemented it. At that point, I was not aware of any A&I product that implemented author identification. And for such there was no way that anybody would have implemented any service that would allow authors to claim papers. Of course the fact that Christian had worked on collection institutional data already was of great help to make this even more attractive.

Well, enough about pioneering works. I did promise to write about the value of RePEc, didn’t I? The key value I see is in identifying documents, authors and institutions and build linkages based on these identifications. Thus even if all papers in economics would be freely available, in open access journals or working papers sites of institutions and they would be staying there, we still would not have implemented the value of RePEc. The value does not come from individuals using a search engine and finding something of interest. Our value comes in the linkages like “this working paper was never published” or “this paper is cited by this other paper”, or “these two authors are co-authors”. If the coverage of economics through RePEc is complete, we can make such assertions with certainty. And we can make the assertions without further human work. For example through the fact that we have two papers that have identified authors, we can say that the two authors are co-authors.  Since the data is freely available that can be used in a co-authorship system. Or if we know that one paper cites another, we can export this into a system that solicits information about why the citation took place.  Linkages and open information go hand in hand in RePEc.


RePEc in August 2014

September 4, 2014

The new feature of the month is that the weekly NEP reports disseminating new economics papers are now available through Twitter. NEP is on a tear, with record downloads from this service despite the usual Summer lull. This cannot be said of other RePEc service, a subject that will be addressed in an upcoming blog post. For August, we counted and certified 415,405 file downloads and 1,495,049 abstract views and we welcomed the followed new participating archives: Higher Education Press, Sobra México, EcoMod, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies (IX), Centro de Estudios Públicos, Beijing Institute of Technology, Instituto de Alto Estudios Nacionales (Ecuador), The Economics and Social Development Organization.


Get your latest economic research through Twitter: NEP now tweets

August 24, 2014

RePEc has been disseminating almost from its start in 1997 new working papers through NEP (New Economics Papers). When RSS feeds became popular, that means of dissemination was added. And now that scholars have adopted Twitter, NEP is there, too.

Each of the about 90 field-specific reports is now tweeting. The papers are hand-picked by academic volunteer editors among all new working papers that are available online. As the email reports may contain several dozen papers in each weekly mailing, the tweets are throttled to no more than one an hour for each report. To subscribe, log into Twitter, go to the NEP home page, click on the report(s) relevant to you, then click on the Twitter link and finally the follow button.

As all RePEc projects, this service is of course free.


RePEc in July 2014

August 5, 2014

While traffic has been in the traditional Summer lull (388,850 file downloads and 1,559,593 abstract views in July 2014), things have been surprisingly active on RePEc. We welcomed 15 new RePEc archives: Ekonomik Yaklasim Dernegi, History of Economic Ideas, Cuadernos de Economía, Architexturez Imprints, Synergiz, University of Pennsylvania (II), INRA (III), Swiss Society for Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, University of Southern California (II), Canadian Centre for Health Economics, Ekonomika Society of Economists Niš, Glasgow Caledonian University, HETFA Research Institute, Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (II).

These, and the existing RePEc archives, have contributed to an unprecedented inflow of newly indexed material: 7,401 papers and 27,768 articles. This allowed the RePEc holdings to surpass 1 million articles and 1.6 million documents. Also, the last 100,000 new documents were indexed in a record time, six months and two days.

Finally IDEAS added a new feature, with backlinks from papers and articles listed on the Economics Replication Wiki. Now on to the thresholds we reached.

3000000 cumulative book abstract views
1600000 indexed documents
1000000 indexed articles
2000 indexed journals
2000 contributors to the RePEc Genealogy


Economics Replication Wiki now on IDEAS

July 16, 2014

A major part of the scientific process is the replication of previous studies, something necessary to confirm that things were done right, that they are not sensitive to details and that results have not changed with the passage of time, either because the methods got better or the data has evolved. Unfortunately, there is little replication in economics, and if there is some, it is difficult to publish it. One can theorize why this may be the case, but it is clear replication studies are little valued and not particularly welcome in journals. It is also quite difficult to determine whether a particular study has been replicated.

To help with all that, the Center for Statistics at the University of Göttingen (Germany) has launched a Wiki to index replicated and replicating studies in economics, with funding from the Institute for New Economic Thinking. As it is a wiki, it is crowd-sourced in the sense that any registered person can amend the records, and in particular add replication studies. One can also add to a list of articles published in top journals that should warrant replication and vote (anonymously) from that list (current winners).

The listings on this Replication Wiki are now indexed on IDEAS as well. The principle is similar to the indexation of Wikipedia articles: if a study on the Wiki has a link to IDEAS (or EconPapers, IDEAS will link back. Those adding or amending entries on the Wiki are thus encouraged to link to the IDEAS abstract page to create the backlink on IDEAS.

As any crowd-sourced project, the Replication Wiki will only live from the participation from the public. If you know of replication studies, consider spending a few minutes and add to this wiki.


RePEc in June 2014

July 4, 2014

We got a good crop of new participating archives this month: Italian Association for the Study of Economic Asymmetries, National Association of Romanian Valuers, Association of Private Enterprise Education, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, VU University Amsterdam, Centre for Macroeconomics (London), Small Arms Data Observatory, Şcoala Naţională de Studii Politice şi Administrative, Journal of Studies in Dynamics and Change, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA).

Traffic was rather low this month, though: 416,168 file downloads and 1,728,798 abstract views. This was in part due to a larger than usual share of raw traffic we had to eliminate because it looked suspicious. Unfortunately, these checks take longer and longer because we see more and more creative and puzzling things in our logs.

And we reached the following thresholds:
125000000 cumulative article abstract views
900000 listed articles are available online
500000 listed papers are available online
10000 utils used in transactions in the fantasy league market


Small changes to RePEc ranking statistics

July 1, 2014

With the next RePEc rankings and statistics to be released in a few days, a couple of small changes will be implemented.

First, we have adjusted the way the recursive and discounted recursive impact factors were used for weighting article pages, documents, and citations. A scaling factor was previously applied twice instead of once. The correction does not affect the rankings in any way, but it allows authors to replicate their scores. New scores are 21.4 times higher.

Second, we have started preventing republished articles from counting in the impact factors of the republishing journal. Also, these articles are dropped from the list of top recent works.


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