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.

RePEc now indexes over one million works

January 25, 2011

RePEc has reached over the last week-end a historic mark: one million works in Economics and neighboring sciences are now indexed, of which 87.5% are available for download. The bibliographic database is comprised by 59.2% of journal articles, 38.5% of working papers, 1.3% of book chapters, 0.8% of books, and 0.2% of software components. All this material has been indexed by volunteers maintaining close to 1300 archives. As RePEc bears no costs, all the data is made available for free.

When RePEc started in June 1997, it built on a stock of metadata with 40,000 entries from its precursor NetEc, which started in 1992. Since then, data holdings have increased in an ever increasing fashion:

100,000August 2000
200,000July 2003
300,000January 2005
400,000July 2006
500,000September 2007
600,000June 2008
700,000January 2009
800,000September 2009
900,000April 2010
1,000,000January 2011

The data collected by RePEc is used by a large number of free core services, including EconPapers, EconomistsOnline, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet. Other services that use RePEc data, however without reporting back usage statistics include, among others, Econlit, Google Scholar, Inomics, Microsoft Academic Search, and Worldcat.

Economists Online service launches in January 2010

January 28, 2010

[By Dave Puplett]

Economists Online is a new service that provides easy and open access to high-quality multilingual academic output in a single, cross-searchable portal. Economists Online contains research drawn from both the repositories of the project members and from the well established RePEc database.

The launch will be marked at the “Subject Repositories: European collaboration in the international context“conference in London on 28/29th January. Professor Nicholas Barr from The London School of Economics, who will be speaking at the conference, describes Economists Online as “A wonderful treasure trove of easy-to-find resources, all the more because so many can be downloaded directly”.

The Economists Online portal offers a search engine with a multilingual interface that can find both citations and full-text of a wide range of research, including articles, working papers, conference materials and datasets. In addition, the portal provides services such as RSS feeds, author profiles and publication lists. Abstract views and downloads through this portal are integrated into the statistics RePEc provides to users.

Economists Online was established by members of the Nereus Consortium, which consists of prestigious academic economic institutions in Europe and other leading Economics research institutes. Nereus is also providing full access to economic research from about 20 European institutions, both through Economists Online and RePEc.


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