Cloud computing and RePEc

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.


RePEc in November 2012

December 4, 2012

The number of the month is 50 million. This is the number of downloads that IDEAS has facilitated since inception. And it is the number of abstract views on EconPapers since its creation. These numbers were compiled by LogEc, which weeds out a considerable numbers of illegitimate downloads and abstract views, for example due to duplicates or spiders. For reporting RePEc services, LogEc reported last month 654,809 file downloads and 2,696,554 abstract views.

We have welcomed the following institutions into RePEc: Institutul National de Statistica şi Studii Economice, CEMLA, Società Italiana di Economia Demografia e Statistica, Fucape Business School, Fundatia Amfiteatru, Voice of Research, Université de Franche-Comté, Institut national d’étude démographiques.

All the thresholds that have been reached in the past month are:

50000000 cumulative downloads on IDEAS
50000000 cumulative abstract views on EconPapers
1300000 listed documents
400000 working paper abstracts
400000 items with references
250000 cited articles
6000 listed institutions with a published author
2500 Wikipedia links to research in RePEc


RePEc in October 2012

November 3, 2012

What happened with RePEc last month? First, like every October, institutions are at the Fall peak in producing research, as over 20,000 items have been added to RePEc. Second, our new project, the RePEc Genealogy, is off to a good start, with already over 4000 authors listed. Then, we counted 634,377 downloads and 2,462,684 abstract views through participating services. Finally, we welcomed the following new participating archives: University of Notre Dame, Yonsei University, ZenTra Center for Transnational Studies, Asian Academy of Management, Urban Institute, WWWforEurope, Universidad Adolfo Ibañez, Università di Napoli “Parthenope”, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Moscow State University, Shandong University, Regia Naţională a Pădurilor, and Universität Zürich (III)

We reached the following thresholds:
10000000 references extracted
4000000 references matched with material listed in RePEc
2000000 cumulative book abstract views
700000 articles available online
25000 authors linked in CollEc co-authorship network
10% of registered authors listed in RePEc Genealogy


RePEc in September 2012

October 4, 2012

This was an unusually busy month for RePEc. First, we unveiled various improvements to CitEc, our citation analysis initiative. Then, we launched the RePEc Genealogy, which traces through crowd-sourcing the academics family tree in economics. Almost 400 authors joined the RePEc Author Service, a pace that amazingly does not seem to slow down despite covering over 33000 published authors. And the following institutions joined RePEc with an archive: Alliance of Central-Eastern European Universities, University of Ghent, Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini, Università di Salerno, Vita e Pensiero, University of Bucharest, Australian Treasury.

And now the thresholds that have been reached during last month:
1250000 items indexed in RePEc
750000 articles indexed in RePEc
125000 articles with references
5000 RePEc items mentioned in blog posts on EconAcademics.org
5000 blog posts indexed on EconAcademics.org
600 blogs with links captured on EconAcademics.org


RePEc in August 2012

September 3, 2012

RePEc went into a slumber for the last month. Quite little to report this time, except for heavy work in the background. The credentials for the accounts in the RePEc Author Service can now be used for authentication into various services, and NEP moved from SUNY Oswego to Penn State. See earlier blog posts about both events. Note also that NEP has now disseminated 200,000 working papers since its inception in 1998.

After adjustments for robots, reloads and other non-conformable traffic, we counted 441,838 file downloads and 1,714,916 abstract views from RePEc Services. Only four new archives joined RePEc: Socionet, Post Keynesian Economics Study Group, Academia Europea de Dirección y Economíe de la Empresa, and Birkbeck College (II). Finally, RePEc passed the following thresholds in the past month:

600,000 paper announcements though NEP (a paper may appear in several reports)
200,000 papers announced through NEP
3,500 working paper series


NEP now sponsored by Penn State

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.


RePEc in July 2012

August 3, 2012

One project that makes particular strides lately is CitEc, our citation analysis initiative. Thanks to the collaboration of several publishers, references from articles are now being added at a substantial pace, and the citation coverage is now becoming more respectable. There is a lot of material in the pipeline, and we hope that other commercial publishers will join in this effort. Also, NEP is moving to a new location and will be off-line a few days. This blog will report on both over the coming weeks.

We counted 504,492 file downloads and 1,823,518 abstract views in July 2012, as always contingent to the pruning performed by the LogEc project. Our new participating archives for the month of July: Ottawa United Learning Academy, Nottingham Trent University (II), University of Central Florida, Europa Grande, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (II), Vistula University, Universidad de Montevideo, University of Antwerp (II), Mathematica Policy Research, Singapore Management University, Lahore School of Economics, Universidad de Oviedo.

And finally a few thresholds we recently passed:
100000000 article abstract views
12000000 cumulative downloads through EconPapers
1100000 items available online
800000 items with abstracts
750000 links to research in registered author profiles
400000 articles with abstracts
333333 JEL coded items


When an email address goes bad

July 25, 2012

Authors register with the RePEc Author Service using their email address, which serves as a user name. That email address is also used by the service to alert them about new potential works to add to their profile and to send them monthly statistics. Occasionally, some of these emails bounce back to the service: the mailbox is full, or the address has become obsolete. What happens now?

First, EconPapers and IDEAS add a mention to the author profile page encouraging users to supply a new email address to the RePEc Author Service. IDEAS also publishes the complete list of lost authors.

Second, lost authors are considered without affiliation for ranking purposes. Indeed, a major reason why an email address goes bad is that the author has moved, in which case the affiliation is likely obsolete. Another reason may be that the author has died, in which case having an affiliation make no sense.

Third, once the email address has remained bad for a second month, the administrator of the RePEc Author Service goes fishing for a better one. This involves Internet searches, asking co-authors and former colleagues. This is repeated later if necessary.

These efforts have allowed to keep the number of lost authors remarkably low: currently 273, or 0.8% of all registered authors. To this, add 152 authors who are known to be deceased. The records of the latter continue to be maintained by volunteers, as research may still be added posthumously, or new archives may still join with works written by these scholars.

We appreciate any help in tracing lost authors, notifications about deceased authors and support in maintaining their profiles. Simply email the administrator of the RePEc Author Service.


RePEc in June 2012

July 3, 2012

First off: RePEc is now 15 years old. It was launched at a meeting in Guildford (UK) where Thomas Krichel exposed his idea to a group of people who were already doing some indexing of working papers. Soon thereafter, they started providing the relevant bibliographic metadata in the relevant format and RePEc services could use them. Thomas Krichel had previously been running various initiatives to improve the dissemination of working papers, all the way back to 1991.

Speaking of volunteer personnel, Kyle Fluegge stepped down as NEP editor. His successor is Laura Stefanescu, who is now in charge of creating the weekly list of new working papers submitted to NEP editors, who can then select those relevant to their field.

During June 2012, we counted 520,118 file downloads and 2,010,606 abstract views. We also welcomed the following new participating archives: : HERMIN, Società editrice il Mulino, Catalactica NGO, Bangor University, Missouri Valley Economic Association, Université Bordeaux 4, University of New South Wales (III), Japan Ministry of Finance, Rockwool Foundation, University of South Bohemia, Babes-Bolyai University.

Finally, the following thresholds were reached during the past month:
400000 working papers available online
100000 articles with references
15000 book chapters available online
1500 indexed journals
500 blogs linked on EconAcademics.org with discussions about RePEc material


RePEc in May 2012

June 4, 2012

We counted in the past month 620,959 file downloads and 2,338,668 abstract views. RePEc has also grown to include now over 1.2 million items. This growth comes in part from the following newly participating archives: Lucius & Lucius Verlag, BI Norwegian Business School, Superintendencia de Pensiones de Chile, Rivista Bancaria, Harvard University (II), University of Tokyo (II), Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Université de Liège, Flinders University, Economics for Energy, Central European University, Hellenic Association of Regional Scientists, Southern Regional Science Association.

And last month, we passed the following thresholds:
200000000 cumulative abstract views on IDEAS
8000000 references extracted
1200000 research items listed on RePEc
400000 items with citations
100000 articles with JEL codes
5000 identified links from blog posts to research items on RePEc
2000 links from Wikipedia to research items on RePEc


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