How to follow what is new in economics research

February 20, 2014

RePEc offers various tools to keep abreast of latest research developments in economics. Keep in mind that due to the unusually long refereeing and publication process in this field, following what is coming out in journals is often not the best way to keep current. The research frontier is advancing with working papers, and this is why RePEc puts a special focus on those. Note that all resources below are free, as always for RePEc services.

NEP

NEP (New Economics Papers) offers email lists and RSS feeds that disseminate approximately every week the latest online working papers across over 90 fields. Field-relevance is determined by volunteer editors who pick the appropriate papers among all working papers newly listed on RePEc during the previous week. Note that if you think a topic is not appropriately covered, you can volunteer as editor of a new report.

MyIDEAS

MyIDEAS allows you to follow new additions to JEL codes, author profiles, series and journals. This is done through the creation of an account on the IDEAS website. Once logged in, you can add the relevant items while navigating the site.

EconPapers Search

EconPapers allows to limit the search results to documents added recently to RePEc. Use the “Modified last” selection at the bottom left of the search form. One can also limit the list of items by JEL code and recency here.

IDEAS Search

Similarly, IDEAS allows to restrict search results to specific years. When looking up by JEL code, items are sorted with the most recent first.

EconAcademics

EconAcademics follows the latest discussion of research on the blogosphere. While it does not necessarily mean this is the most recent research, it is often the case.


How to get to the RePEc metadata

November 19, 2013

RePEc collects a lot of metadata about publications in economics and finance, their authors, citations and more. All this data is provided by volunteers with the understanding that it is freely available for non-commercial uses while there is no explicit licence for the data.

By the very nature of RePEc, the data is highly decentralized and may be somewhat difficult to get to, at least for a novice. To this end, we have now a  document that should help the potential user getting to it. It is not straightforward, and the data needs substantial massaging for the user to make good use of it. We hope this will be useful, though.


IDEAS now has a fantasy league

October 28, 2013

Following a successful beta testing, a fantasy league is now live on IDEAS. It all started with an April Fool’s post on this blog that many found to be a great idea. We will see now whether this is true.

As we do not have a publishing season, and publishing is very slow in economics, the rules had to be adapted from the standard fantasy leagues in other “sports.” They may need to be amended in the future, but players will be alerted well ahead of any changes. And if you are uncomfortable with being traded in a fantasy league, you can opt out.

Have fun playing!


A proposed RePEc fantasy league

August 22, 2013

Back on the 1st of April (Fool’s Day) of this year, I introduced the RePEc fantasy league. While this post was to be more on the humorous side, many people took it seriously. And interest for the league is unabated, with several people recently asking about it. So I guess there is sufficient demand, and it looks like it could be fun to play with economists. Hence, I want to make a proposal, ask for comments, and let people vote whether such a fantasy league should be run.

Here is the proposal. As the publishing output of economists is rather slow-moving and there is no defined season for play, the league is set up for continuous entry and play is on an infinite horizon. A set of rules has been drafted, and I welcome comments about them, especially from those who are more used to play in this kind of league.

For those who are worried that they could be virtually subject to trades, there would be the ability to opt out from being played with.

Beyond fine-tuning rules, there is also the question whether such a league should be run at all. Below is a poll that will be open for a month. Feel free to vote.


Introducing the RePEc fantasy league

April 1, 2013

Fantasy (or rotisserie) leagues allow player to manage team members from a real-life competition to compose optimal teams. Fantasy leagues organize their own competitions and are popular in a variety of sports throughout the world. RePEc now has its own fantasy leagues, which allow players to manage economics departments. Specifically, there are two leagues.

Scratch league

Department owners in this league pick faculty members from the pool of authors registered in the RePEc Author Service and create departments from scratch. They need to keep a topical balance and all start with the same budget. Simulated departments are evaluated using the same criteria that underly the ranking of real life institutions.

Extant league

Here, department owners start from an existing department and then trade its faculty to improve it. Simulated departments are evaluated by comparing them to the existing ones they started from. Only economics departments are available for this league.

Markets

Both leagues work with separate markets for economists. Initial prices are based on current ranking scores of the registered economists. All currently registered economists are part of this market, and one can ask to be excluded from this market after log in.

Rules

Rules follow standard fantasy league rules. A few specificities for economists:

  • Departments in the scratch league require that economists work in a balanced set of fields. These are based on which topical NEP mailing lists disseminated their working papers.
  • One cannot short an economist.
  • Newly registered economists are added to the pool with an initial price corresponding to their ranking after the release of new monthly rankings (between the thrid and fifth day of the month.
  • Fantasy league rankings are not public.
  • A department owner cannot add him/herself to a department. If member of the original department in the extant league, he/she has to immediately trade him/herself.
  • One can play at most one department in each league.
  • Legues do not follow a seasonal schedule, they are continuously open.
  • Rules may be adjusted if the need arises.

Enjoy!


On RePEc traffic numbers

May 19, 2012

RePEc provides traffic statistics to authors, editors, and archive and series maintainers. LogEc displays them to the public. These downloads and abstract views are obtained from some, but not all, RePEc services which compile their server log files: Economists Online, EconPapers, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet. The raw logs are purged from anything that does not look like human traffic (robots, spiders), repeat traffic as well as anything that does not seem licit. This typically divides traffic numbers by four or five. More details are available at LogEc.

Several people have noticed that RePEc traffic numbers have exhibited a downward trend over the last couple of years. We do not have a definite answer, but we have a few possible explanations for this trend.

Tightening of criteria

The criteria for what is considered licit traffic have been tightened in July 2010, retroactively to January 2008 (see blog post). This can explain a one-time decrease in reported traffic, but not the trend.

Server caches

We noticed that several institutions run server caches of IDEAS. This means that any request to an IDEAS page comes from this server, and thus requests from separate people count as one. Worse, if there are many such requests, the server is considered a robot and none count. While this has an impact on traffic numbers, it is not believed to be a major impact.

Proxy servers

These are servers through which all web traffic of an institution is routed. The main goal is security: all computers behind the proxy server appear to have the same IP address, and a potential attacker cannot find the individual IP addresses. The impact is the same as with the above: all traffic from an institution (for example the hundreds of economists from the US Federal Reserve System) are considered to be from a single person, and possibly a illicit robot. This can explain stagnating traffic and, if the adoption of proxy servers is increasing, even decreasing traffic.

Non-reporting RePEc services

Several RePEc services are not reporting traffic logs to LogEc. If they are diverting traffic away from reporting services, the visible statistics suffer. As RePEc is getting used more and more by bibliographic services, the declining recorded traffic gives then a false image of the evolution.

Google Scholar priorities

Substantial traffic is coming from Google Scholar, which used to rely substantially on RePEc for its initial launch, at least for economics material. As Google established partnerships with commercial publishers, commercial material is now privileged in search results and RePEc is often confined to the much less prominent “other versions.”

Better usage

It could also be that users are getting more efficient at finding what they are looking for, either because they are getting better at it, or because the RePEc services have improved their websites. If one needs to read fewer abstracts until one finds the right works, this will lower traffic and increase user satisfaction.

Reduced popularity

Finally, it could be also that RePEc services are becoming less popular, given the existence of several good alternatives (which are almost all using RePEc data). The fact that raw traffic, which includes all that LogEc eliminates, is still going up would invalidate this argument, unless this increase is entirely due to an increase in robot traffic.

All in all, we are not sure why we have the decrease in the “visible” traffic numbers. Maybe our loyal readers have further suggestions.


Aggegating discussion of economics research on blogs

April 10, 2012

The discussion of economic issues on the blogosphere is too little based on actual research. To promote blogs that discuss research, the blog aggregator EconAcademics.org was created a few years ago, showing for a select few blogs their last posts. EconAcademics.org has now been completely redone, with a radical change in concept.

The site now monitors a large number of economics blogs and selects the posts that discuss research. These posts are currently identified by a link to material on EconPapers, IDEAS, or NEP. The selected posts are then displayed on the site (main page and respective language) and linked from the relevant IDEAS page. We hope this will further promote the discussion of economic issues based on research and the blogs that do so.

You can find the new blog aggregator at EconAcademics.org.


A new RePEc service: CollEc

March 11, 2012

A new RePEc service is now on-line, CollEc. The main goal of this initiative is to analyze co-authorship networks within Economics. To this end, it collects all the authorship data from the RePEc Author Service and computes the shortest path through co-authorship relationships between any two registered economists. From all this data, two “features” are computed.

First, a closeness and a betweenness score is computed for every economist. Closeness measure how close one is with everyone else. Betweenness measures how frequently shortest paths have a particular economist as a node. Of course, economists can be ranked according to both criteria.

Second, the website allows to display the shortest paths between any two economists, and one can be surprised at how short they often are. To play with this, either navigate the lists on CollEc or find the direct link to an author’s page on IDEAS (author profile, under “statistics”), then enter the name of another author.

Note that only authors registered with RePEc are considered. Also, not every registered author is part of this global network of co-authorship. For example, an author without a (registered) co-author is excluded. Also, an economist at the end of a path cannot have a betweenness score, mostly likely someone with a single (registered) co-author.


New IDEAS layout rolled out

February 16, 2012

One of the main RePEc services, IDEAS, inaugurates today a new layout. The old layout was about a dozen years old and suffered from clutter, given all the new features that were gradually added to the site (and more coming). It is also designed to facilitate navigation, especially for the newcomer who may not be familiar with all the functionalities. Finally, we hope it will direct requests for corrections to the relevant people. There have also been some improvements in the invisible part of the site to make able to accommodate even more material.

As the site contains about 1.4 million pages, it is sure that there are going to be some imperfections. If you notice anything, let me know!

And another service, EDIRC, a directory of Economics institutions, is getting a new layout as well.


Who uses RePEc?

December 17, 2011

The goal of RePEc is to enhance the dissemination of research in Economics, and in particular to make it more accessible to those who do not have the resources of large and rich institutions. Here, I analyze traffic on IDEAS, the most popular of the RePEc services, since its move to the Economic Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

IDEAS is in English, but of course a substantial share of the material in RePEc is in other languages. Looking at the browser settings of those visiting IDEAS, 65% of visitors have the language set on English, 6% Spanish, 5% German and Chinese, 4% French. Browser settings can reveal more about the users. Browser chares are 37% for Internet Explorer, 29% for Firefox, 23% for Chrome, 8% Safari and 2% Opera. 85% of visitors use Windows, 10% some Mac OS, 2% some mobile OS and 1.2% Linux.

What is more interesting to us is where IDEAS visitors come from. Despite substantial ISP concentration is some large countries, no single ISP accounts for more than 1.8% of visitors. By country, the visitor ranking is:


  1. 22% United States
  2. 8.2% United Kingdom
  3. 5.3% India
  4. 4.9% Germany
  5. 3.6% China
  6. 3.5% Canada
  7. 3.2% France
  8. 2.8% Italy
  9. 2.7% Australia
  10. 1.9% Philippines
  11. 1.8% Netherlands
  12. 1.8% Spain
  13. 1.5% Japan
  14. 1.5% Malaysia
  15. 1.5% Brazil
  16. 1.3% Colombia
  17. 1.2% Pakistan
  18. 1.2% Switzerland
  19. 1.2% Turkey
  20. 1.2% Mexico
  21. 1.0% Belgium
There have been visitors from 223 countries, including 8 from Saint Helena, and 3 from North Korea. By continent, Europe accounts for 34.8%, the Americas for 32.9%, Asia for 24.1%, Africa for 4.8% and Oceania for 3.2%. And if you are really curious, the top cities are London, New York, Paris, Washington, New Delhi, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, Beijing, Bogota, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Rome, Seoul, Toronto, Bangalore and Nairobi. St. Louis, where the server is located, ranks 125th, between Dar-Es-Salaam and Adelaide. Interesting that so many cities in less developed countries are in this list.


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