RePEc in September 2014

October 3, 2014

Quite a few new developments this month: All RePEc sites hosted at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis are now encrypted (“https”), allowing a more secure user experience. You can now add a picture, social networks and areas of interest to your citation profile at My CitEc. The random paper finder on IDEAS now uses citation weighting. And the dormant NEP-AFR report (New Economics Papers on Africa) has been revived. Not bad for a single month.

We counted 491,312 file downloads and 1,797,609 abstract views in September 2014. NEP got another record traffic month, possibly helped by the fact that NEP reports are now available on Twitter. We have also welcomed the following newly participating RePEc archives: Association of African Young Economists, Universität Duisburg-Essen (III), Université d’Orléans, University of St. Andrews (II), Bank of Japan (II), University of Limerick, Syddansk Universitet, Universität Kiel, IQRA University, Multinational Finance Society. As to the thresholds we passed:

80000000 cumulative downloads from reporting RePEc services
1500000 indexed documents available online
750000 paper announcements through NEP
750 NEP-ALL reports


Why reported traffic is declining

September 28, 2014

Back in May 2012, we were complaining that reported traffic on RePEc sites was declining. This trend has continued and we need to revisit the issue.

Looking at the graphs at LogEc it is quite obvious that traffic is not increasing as you would expect, including accounting for the the fact that there is actually more and more material indexed on RePEc. Before looking for the reasons, we need to explain how these statistics are computed.

Only a limited set of RePEc services reported the detailed traffic statistics needed to compute this: EconPapers, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet. Aggregate numbers are not sufficient for other RePEc services to report their statistics, one needs a lot of details to determine whether traffic is robotic or human, to remove duplicates and to detect fraud attempts. If fact about 90% of total traffic is rejected for statistical purposes on those grounds. This complexity makes that several sites that use RePEc data are not reporting anything about their traffic. This includes: EconLit, EconStor, Google Scholar, Inomics, Microsoft Academic Search, OAISter/WORLDCAT, Scirus, Sciverse and very likely more. The fact that the data collected by RePEc is used in many places is not contrary to our mission. We want to improve the dissemination of research in Economics. But we seem to be able to track only a fraction of its use. As the number of RePEc services reporting statistics has not increased, while the number of sites using RePEc data has, we could explain the decrease in reported traffic as cannibalization. The overall use may have increased, and user satisfaction too, but we cannot demonstrate it.

Of course, given that we are filtering the traffic statistics, we may be filtering too much, and increasingly so. We have indeed tightened some rules over time, mostly to avoid counting new traffic patterns that are visibly not legitimate. For example, IDEAS threw out 3.4 millions abstract views (or two per listed abstracts) in July 2014 thanks to a single pattern rule that was introduced about a year ago. But this pattern was previously not problematic, so it is difficult to conclude that such tightening can explain a reduction in traffic. It remains a fact that the proportions of traffic that is excluded is steadily increasing. In raw numbers, IDEAS keeps breaking records. It filtered numbers, traffic is declining. Is it because there are really more and more robots out there?

The same applies to other potential explanations: Several institutions are caching our websites. several have all their members access the web through a single IP address and are thus undistinguishable to us. In both cases, downloads by different users look to us like they are coming from the same person and are counted only once. Is this more prevalent than before? Yes in both cases, but caching is very minor, and IP bundling pertains mostly to governmental institutions and corporate networks. How much this matters is difficult to evaluate.

The big elephant in the house is traffic coming from search engines, and most importantly Google. Google has changed its ranking criteria over time. Google Scholar has started privileging the original source over aggregators like RePEc several years ago, and the impact has been increasing as more publishers give Google Scholar direct access to their repositories. This pertains also to the general Google search engine. For example, traffic from Google to IDEAS dropped by a third from one day to the next on May 22, 2014, after Google decided to penalize the search ranking of aggregator web pages.

Finally, we cannot exclude that RePEc services are indeed less popular, which is bad. But if this is because people are more easily finding what they are looking for, then this is good, as the core missing of RePEc is to improve the dissemination of research in economics.


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


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