December 13, 2012
Hosting RePEc services has been both a technical and an organizational challenge. Historically, the first hosting of what was to become RePEc goes back to late 1992. Manchester Computing Center, as it was known then, agreed to create WAIS indexed Gopher for the BibEc and WoPEc projects created by Thomas Krichel. The site was converted to the web in 1993. Manchester Computing Center were a national center for academic computing, providing services the UK academic community. They were fortunately forward-looking in their outlook when they started to with NetEc. It was broadly within their remit as Thomas Krichel worked in UK academia at the time. They continued to sponsor RePEc-related sites until the end of the decade. But they were not the only one. Washington University of St. Louis, where EconWPA was living, contributed a NetEc mirror, and so did Hitotsubashi University where Satoshi Yasuda kept as server in his documentation centre for Japanese economic statistics. So generally, it was for sponsoring institutions, where a RePEc volunteer lived to take up the hosting. If they agreed, there were usually stringent conditions. Machines are locked in a facility closed after hours, there are rules on firewalls. Or when the machine was based in somebody’s office, a cleaner could unplug a cable, electricity cuts could cause damage to the motherboard, failing air conditioning would damage disks. The list may look comical now, but at the time each incident was a disaster. There was not much of an alternative. Commercial solutions were too expensive to be paid for by an individual, and project funding would come to an end.
Things are looking better now. Cloud computing has become much cheaper. In 2006, the RePEc OAI gateway, sponsored by the Central Library of Economics (ZBW) in Germany was the first sponsored RePEc service. The CollEc service has become the second sponsored RePEc service. The server runs at a hosting company. The server is a dedicated machine, with 8 CPUs. They are running 100% constantly as the calculations for CollEc are very heavy, at this time. One single sponsor covers a 50 euros a month fee for the machine. In November 2012 the ZBW sponsorship moved to a similar machine. In December 2012, the NEP service followed. It uses a similar machine. The NEP team had several offers of sponsorship and chose the one by Victoria University of Wellington, mainly because they were the first to offer. We think the CitEc service will follow suit, but we still have to find a sponsor. We also could move the main RePEc site to a similar machine. While a single site may not require the use of a powerful computer we still need backup. Case in point, in 2008 staff at the hosting company discovered that the server sponsored by ZBW did not have a stick on it. They proceeded to dismantle the machine. No data was recoverable. Fortunately Thomas Krichel kept a backup.
We expect that RePEc will be using more sponsored hosting. It is a very good thing. RePEc volunteers have spent countless hours on broken disks, falling power supply systems, loose network cable than you can shake a stick at. Using sponsored hosting can leave more time to improve service.
August 26, 2012
Since 2005 one of the main RePEc computers, the one handling New Economic Papers (NEP) has been housed at the State University of New York at Oswego. NEP handles the weekly email notifications of new working papers in about 90 field-specific reports. As part of its academic mission, SUNY Oswego kindly let the RePEc project place the machine on its network in one of its server rooms. While Bill Goffe was the local sponsor, the vast majority of the effort of running it fell to Thomas Krichel.
Bill has now taken a job with Penn State and this server hast just moved with him. Bill and the entire RePEc team would like to thank SUNY Oswego for its support over the last seven years and it looks forward to working the Information Technology in Liberal Arts group at Penn State for hosting this machine for the foreseeable future.
August 20, 2011
RePEc’s aim is to improve the dissemination of research in Economics and related sciences. A critical part of this mission is to offer free services, but with the consequence that it cannot gather revenue for users. Thus, it needs to rely entirely on the work of volunteers.
Volunteers contribute big and small. There is a core team that takes responsibility in running the major services. Most members of this team have been with RePEc for many years and are looking for some fresh blood. One who is stepping up is Kyle Fluegge, PhD student at Ohio State University, who is now helping in the weekly generation of the NEP reports.
This brings us to another class of volunteers, the NEP editors who determine in the weekly list of new working papers Kyle prepares which are relevant to their field.
And finally their a very large group of volunteers who are in charge of indexing all the research items into RePEc. These so-called RePEc archive maintainers number over 1300, and a complete list of the participating archives can be found here. Another group helps editing individual uploads in the Munich Personal RePEc Archive.
If you are looking to help, you are welcome to open a RePEc archive at your institution, become a NEP editor or ask for more specific volunteer opportunities. Details are here.
October 21, 2010
Ekkehart Schlicht has very recently earned his retirement as a Professor of Economics at the University of Munich and we hope he will remain active for many years in the RePEc community.
Prof. Schlicht has been a pioneer of sorts. While editor of the Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (Zeitschrift für die gesamte Staatswissenschaft), he convinced his publisher to put the journal on RePEc, the first German journal to do so. And when he heard that EconWPA had to stop accepting new paper uploads, he stepped up and got the Library of the University of Munich to provide software, space and hosting for the Munich Personal RePEc Archive (MPRA). This allows authors whose home institution is not (yet) participating in RePEc to upload their works and make them available through RePEc. This service has proven to be wildly popular, with over 13000 uploads in its first four years of service, is now the second most popular series or journal on RePEc in terms of downloads. In fact, MPRA is so popular now that its volunteer editors could indeed use some additional help, in particular for submissions in English.
Prof. Schlicht has also occasionally been contributing to this blog, in particular about the future of the publishing industry. This reminds us that this week is Open Access week, so do not forget to promote Open Access around you for a better accessibility of research. In particular, open a local RePEc archive, or upload your works to MPRA!
And we all wish a happy retirement to Prof. Schlicht, and we hope to continue reading from him on this blog and the internal RePEc mailing lists.
April 19, 2010
RePEc relies completely on volunteer work, and some of them do work that is invisible from the outside. One of those is Christian Calmès, Associate Professor of Economics at the Université du Québec en Outaouais (Canada) and the “enforcer” on NEP. NEP is a collection of mailing lists that distribute announcements of new working papers in currently 87 fields. Those announcements are vetted by volunteers editors, who decide which papers are relevant for their fields. Subscribers expect to receive timely messages about once a week, and Calmès makes sure editors do their job. If necessary, he relieves them of their duties (after some warning). On occasion, this has meant that he had to take over managing a list, in the absence of an available volunteer. Currently, he manages NEP-BEC (Business Economics), NEP-BAN (Banking) and NEP-REG (Regulation).
March 15, 2010
Volker Schallehn is librarian at the University of Munich, but not your normal librarian. He has always been very active in open access, the free dissemination of research. For example, he has set up the institutional archive for the University of Munich, now one of the larger ones in the world, and doing so got so familiar with EPrints that he contributed code to this open-source project, along with a German translation of its interface.
His involvement with RePEc started when we were looking for a successor to the Economics WPA, which was holding papers for authors whose institutions or publishers were not (yet) participating in RePEc. Ekkehart Schlicht had the idea to add another repository to those Volker was already managing, hoping to exploit returns to scale. Volker agreed, seeing the broader mission in this initiative. Thus in 2006, the Munich Personal RePEc Archive was born, which now houses over 11,000 works and continues to grow steadfastly.
February 10, 2010
RePEc works thanks to a large number of volunteers, most of them toiling in anonymity. One who spends a lot of time on the project is Venus Khim-Sen Liew, currently Associate Professor of Economics at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak in Malaysia. Among many other professional responsibilities, he is editor at MPRA, the RePEc service that allows authors to upload their works to be indexed on RePEc, for those who do not benefit from a local RePEc archive. MPRA needs editors to ensure some quality control to make sure that submissions are of academic nature and satisfy copyright requirements. Venus is in charge of submissions in Malaya and in particular helps with those in English, of which a considerable number (over 9000) have been accepted so far, and much of it is the result of Venus’ work.
If you are interested in helping with RePEc as well, check out the volunteer opportunities.
January 22, 2010
RePEc is allowing free access to its services, to readers, authors and publishers. Why? Because we want that research be disseminated the most widely possible and in the most democratic way possible. Everyone should have the same chance at getting read, no matter where the author is located. And everybody should be able to access research, no matter what the means and the location.
Of course, we cannot make research completely free, as some publishers keep their material gated. But whenever possible, we offer alternative, open access versions to gated material. Those versions may not be the latest ones, but they are usually close enough and usable by readers.
But how can we make all those services available for free? For one, we have volunteers who are willing to devote some of their spare time for the cause. Also, the running of RePEc is decentralized to the furthest extend possible. For example, the actual indexing is done by the publishers (following these instructions). As they are the ones who benefit the most from being listed, they are willing to comply with our requirements. Thus the data input is costless to RePEc, and then the collected data is made available to those who would like to build a service with it. Again, volunteers create and manage these services at no cost to RePEc.
November 27, 2009
For the first time, RePEc will have a booth in the exhibition hall of a major meeting of economists. This will be January 3-5, 2010, in Atlanta, at the annual meeting of the Allied Social Sciences Association. ASSA encompasses, among others, the American Economic Association, the American Finance Association and the Econometric Society. About 8000 economists attend this meeting.
Meet us at booth 509-B (towards the back of the hall) in the International Hall of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis to chat with RePEc volunteers, ask questions or make suggestions. We will offer advice on how to set up a RePEc archive so that your institution can also participate in the wider dissemination of research that RePEc promotes, along with over 1100 others. Documentation will also be available.
This RePEc booth is sponsored by EconLit.
November 11, 2009
On 2009-11-10, the Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas took over mutabor, the machine that makes CitEc, from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. The RePEc community is grateful to Fernando Ferrer, who helped running the machine at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia. We cheer Rodrigo Aragón Rodríguez who will be helping to maintain the machine at its new location.
CitEc is the citation analysis project within RePEc. At the time of this writing, it has analysed 230.279 documents, finding 5.130.205 references and 2.176.994 citations. The software side of the project is maintained by José Manuel Barrueco Cruz.