A look back at 2022

January 5, 2023

RePEc proudly celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022, 25 years of being entirely run by volunteers and providing free services to economists and people interested in economic research. We also worked over the year, with the following to show:

  • 34 publishers and other publication providers joined RePEc
  • 2,218 economists registered with the RePEc Author Service, bringing the total to 65,752 (with 1,941,046 works in their profiles)
  • We counted 21,172,731 abstract views and 5,390,781 file downloads through the reporting RePEc services
  • We expanded the RePEc services for social media users to Mastodon
  • We inaugurated a new RePEc homepage that explains better what RePEc is and does.
  • We mourned the loss of the Russian RePEc service, Socionet.
  • The over 2000 RePEc archive maintainers added: 109 working paper series, 108,111 working papers, 128 journals, 320,367 articles, 2,502 books, 20,374 book chapters, 171 software components. We now have over 4.2 million works indexed in RePEc
  • Citation extraction at CitEc worked overtime, adding references from 282,003 works.
  • The NEP editors released 2,474 reports disseminating new working papers in their respective fields of research.

Specifically for December 2022, we had two new RePEc archives: the Romanian Academy and the International Scientific Community National Science. We recorded 415,652 file downloads and 1,620,115 abstract views through , IDEAS, and NEP. And we reached the following milestones:
1,250,000 book downloads
200,000 indexed book chapters


RePEc in November 2022

December 5, 2022

Some innovation last month: IDEAS now has a directory of economists on Mastodon, which allows them to verify their identity. Also, NEP now also disseminates new working papers through Mastodon. We welcomed a few new RePEc archives: IFS CEMMAP, Plus Communication, Henry Stewart Publications, Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology. We counted 504,980 file downloads and 1,960,157 abstract views over the month. And we reached the following milestones:

10,000,000 software component abstract views
5,500 indexed working paper series


How to leverage RePEc on social media

December 2, 2022

With lots of movement in the social media landscape, this post gives you an overview of the ways RePEc can help you on social media, at least when you intend to use it for professional purposes.

Finding economists on social media and being found

If you want to use social media for professional purposes, the first problem you face is to find other economists to follow or communicate with. For two networks, Twitter and Mastodon, RePEc offers help.
Twitter: The listing of economists on Twitter has over name 2000 names, organized by fields, locations, and more. Each has an associated Twitter list, meaning that you just need to follow the Twitter list and you automatically follow a timeline with all its members. Instructions are also provided on how to get listed.
Mastodon:: Given the decentralized nature, it is more challenging to find people to follow, especially if they are located on another Mastodon instance. RePEc can help with a recently created listing of economists on Mastodon, again organized by fields, locations, and more. An additional benefit of being on that list is that the link to the IDEAS author profile on the Mastodon profile can be verified, thereby providing an identity verification.

Linking to economic research on social media

If you are discussing economic research on social media, we want to encourage you to link to an IDEAS page instead of directly to the paper of interest. Here are the advantages:

  1. On many social media platforms, this will automatically create a so-called card, that is, a preview of what is in the link. IDEAS, for example, will display the title along with an image containing title, author and abstract. This known to work on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Mastodon, Slack, WhatsApp and Telegram.
  2. Not everyone may have access to the paper. RePEc sites often offer alternative versions.
  3. RePEc URLs are permanent. Full-text URLs may move or disappear.
  4. RePEc pages offer more context (links to author profiles, citations, references, and more
  5. For blogs, the blog post is then listed on EconAcademics as well as on the IDEAS citation tab of the mentioned paper.
  6. Authors get credited for the traffic.

Finding new economic research on social media

RePEc offers also the option to follow new economic research on social media. At this point this is only available for Mastodon, with separate Mastodon accounts to follow in close to 100 economic fields. The NEP homepage has links to them. A similar initiative gathered 20,000 followers on Twitter until the platform banned these accounts, unfortunately.


RePEc in October 2022

November 8, 2022

We had a first last month: not a single new RePEc archive. Does this mean that every working paper provider and every publisher is now participating in RePEc? We do not believe so and hope to see many more onboard. Still, we got good traffic, with 476,515 file downloads and 1,878,675 abstract views in October 2022. And we reached the following major milestone:

400,000,000 cumulative abstract views on IDEAS


How to create a (good) PDF

November 4, 2022

You may read the title of this blog and think, “Elementary.” Before making that assumption based on years of experience creating PDFs for sharing papers, take a moment to consider the notion of a good PDF. Despite its namesake of Portable Document Format, PDF isn’t fully portable. The look and feel, and sometimes even meaning of a document won’t transfer across operating systems unless fully self-contained in the file. For instance, unless native to the system rendering a font, a different font will render. For example, a document created with ITC Symbol Medium, a proprietary TrueType font may render differently between PDF viewers, losing the intended meaning. Let’s avoid this embarrassing mishap and create a good PDF.

Screen Shot 2022-11-04 at 8.55.24 AMPage from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas 1999 Annual Report, rendered in Firefox v.103.0.1 PDF viewer. Text appears in Latin script and characters are spaced appropriately.

Screen Shot 2022-11-04 at 8.56.46 AM
Page from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas 1999 Annual Report, rendered with PDF.js iframe v.2.9.359. Text appears in Greek rather than Latin script and characters are spaced appropriately.

Screen Shot 2022-11-04 at 9.18.43 AM
Page from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas 1999 Annual Report, rendered with Preview v.11.0 (used on MacOS). Text appears in Latin script and characters are spaced far apart.

A short history of PDF

What is PDF? In 1991, John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe Inc. ideated a universal format to communicate visually meaningful information across operating systems. Adobe realized this technology in 1992 as the Portable Document Format, or PDF. In 2008, Adobe’s proprietary file format was standardized as ISO 32000 and is based on PDF v. 1.4. The latest version of ISO 32000 was released in 2020 and details PDF v. 2.0. PDFs are electronic documents that are either digitized or born digital—i.e., digital surrogates of a physical document or documents created with a digital editing software, respectively.

​Key components

  1. Portable look and feel between operating systems—inherent to PDF
  2. Embedded structure and semantics—enabled with Tagged PDF
  3. Fully self-contained—defined by PDF/A

The world of PDF is vast. For the purpose of this post, we’re thinking about PDF as a format for disseminating born digital scholarly papers, and a good PDF is understood as one that is accessible and self-contained.

About the Good PDF

In addition to the standard PDF, there are PDF extensions or subsets, including PDF/E, PDF/VT, PDF/X, PDF/UA, and PDF/A. PDF/E, PDF/VT, and PDF/X specify requirements that optimize publishing and printing and are largely focused on handling complex graphics and layout, whereas PDF/UA and PDF/A are more generalized to any type of content and focus on how that content exists and is presented in the PDF. Standardized in 2012 as ISO 14289, PDF/UA is a “Universally Accessible” PDF variant that requires content blocks to be tagged, making them navigable for screenreaders. Tagged PDF defines structure and semantics so that the content is not only machine readable, the order of content is meaningful. PDF/A or PDF-Archival is standardized in ISO 19005 as a format for long-term preservation of electronic documents. PDF/A is defined in four versions, as well as three levels of conformance to those versions. Together, the versions and conformance levels are flavors of PDF/A. These flavors do not suggest preference; they are simply variants that provision different levels of flexibility as to what can or cannot be contained within the file. In addition to content tagging, PDF/A limits the types of content—or objects—that can be included in a PDF.

​As aforementioned, in the world of PDF, there are two types of documents: digitized and born digital. Asserting tagging on digitized documents requires manual tagging of the file that is time consuming and often not possible due to the nature of how documents are digitized. As such, digitized documents generally forgo the tagged PDF requirement, taking the PDF/A-b (basic) conformance level that does not require tagging. This is an inherent vice of print material. Born digital content, however, can easily be tagged, as meaningful structure is built into word processing software and can be understood by PDF creation software. When possible, born digital documents should conform to PDF/A-a (accessible).

​Now that you’ve decided on the conformance level, what version should you use? Subsequent versions of ISO 19005 consider the evolution of documents and standards. For example. PDF/A-1 does not permit embedding of certain image and content objects, including JPEG2000 and 3D images, and CAD drawings. These embedded objects are permitted in later versions of 19005 as standardization, support, and uptake around those previously prohibited types of content increased. Repositories prefer and may prohibit later versions of PDF/A because they are more flexible and, thus, have been considered less preservation-friendly.

How to create a Good PDF

​Considering the type of content and your born digital file, PDF/A-1a (version 1, accessible) is the preferred PDF/A flavor for working papers. However, due to the landscape of version preference and software support PDF/A-1b (version 1, basic) may be the only possible version to achieve, as not all software support tagged PDF, and adding that structure would need to be done with a PDF creation software.

​Word processing software, such LaTeX, Microsoft Word, and LibreOffice, have built-in functions that create PDF derivatives from the native file format—i.e., .docx, .tex, and other word processed formats. Additional steps are needed to create a PDF/A, and listed are some guides for creating your PDF/A-1a or -1b.

LaTeX

Microsoft Word

LibreOffice

Because software and software uptake changes, there is no universal guide for creating a PDF/A. These guides should send you in the right direction. While software may create a seemingly good PDF/A, you can complete manual and automated validate to ensure that your PDF/A is compliant.

Validation software

Manual checklist

  • Is meaningful descriptive metadata embedded?
  • Did fonts embed as expected or are there visual discrepancies?
  • Is the content ordered correctly so that the document can be read by a screenreader?

Next steps

Create a good PDF and be a steward of accessible and sustainable research dissemination throughout the working paper lifecycle.

Further reading

​Oettler, A. (2013). PDF/A in a Nutshell 2.0. PDF Association. https://www.pdfa.org/resource/pdfa-in-a-nutshell-2-0/


RePEc in September 2022

October 11, 2022

25 years ago in September 1997, IDEAS was launched. That was celebrated last month with a special cake. In other news, we counted 414,537 file downloads and 1,698,145 abstract views for the month, welcomed Società Italiana di Economia dello Sviluppo and University of Bremen as newly participating RePEc archive, and reached the following milestones:

1,200,000 articles with citations
1,800,000 items with citations
1,000,000 new working paper announcements distributed through NEP (a paper may be announced through several reports)
60,000 indexed books


What is RePEc? How does it operate?

September 29, 2022

Many are confused about RePEc is and how it operates, in particular in relationship with the various RePEc services. The core RePEc team gathered and drafted an attempted at high-level explanations that are found below as well as on the RePEc homepage.

RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) is an initiative that seeks to enhance the dissemination of research in Economics and related areas. We want to make research more accessible both for the authors and the readers. RePEc is a crowd-sourced effort: a) thousands of people and organizations contribute the underlying data, b) a core team of contributors manage the system, and c) sponsor organizations provide the infrastructure. As such, the RePEc initiative has no central expenses, and thus can provide all services for free to all users.

How RePEc operates:

Every publisher or provider puts text files describing their publications on their server. These files follow a simple but rigorous machine-readable syntax. They can then be automatically mirrored and made available to the public on the various RePEc websites. Some RePEc services complement these data with additional information such as citations or author details. RePEc is thus a facilitator that organizes the data for others to use.

How you can use RePEc as a provider or publisher:

Join over 2000 providers and publishers to increase the visibility of your publications. Follow these step-by-step instructions to create your RePEc archive. They show how to quickly set up your RePEc archive on your http, https, or ftp server and describe the syntax of the required metadata for working papers, journal articles, books, chapters, and software. For the complete technical details on the infrastructure and the metadata, you can also read about the Guilford protocol and ReDIF.

How you can use RePEc as a reader:

You can explore economic literature on two RePEc services. On EconPapers and IDEAS, search and browse, or follow links to author profiles, references, citations, keywords, or classifications. You can get notifications of new material with two other RePEc services, NEP and MyIDEAS.

How you can use RePEc as an author:

With the RePEc Author Service, you can create a profile of your indexed works. This allows the other RePEc services to link your profile to your works and vice versa. You also get notifications about the visibility of your works and citations newly found by CitEc. And if your publisher does not participate in RePEc, you can upload missing items to MPRA, copyright permitting.

How you can use RePEc as an institution:

RePEc can help you make your working papers (pre-prints) more visible, track how your researchers publish, and provide metrics to evaluate impact.

How you can leverage RePEc data as a researcher:

Data assembled by RePEc can be used for many purposes. Examples are academic research, tracking how working papers get published, adding metrics to a website, and evaluating researchers or institutions. We have instructions on how to access the data, including through an API.

There is much more that RePEc can do for you. Explore the RePEc homepage and the various services listed there!


RePEc in August 2022

September 6, 2022

Summer (vacation) is over and RePEc users are getting back to work. Just one new archive last month: New Zealand Productivity Commission. We counted 373,428 file downloads and 1,487,271 abstract views through reporting services. And we reached the following milestones:

240,000,000 cumulative article abstract views
2,500,000 cumulative software component downloads
1,700,000 items with extracted references
65,000 registered authors
5,000 software components available online


IDEAS turns 25

September 1, 2022

25 years ago, IDEAS was launched. A few months after RePEc was created, it built on the data about publications that RePEc was was making available. At launch, about 40,000 papers were indexed, with about 4,000 being online. Now the numbers amount to over 4.1 million and 3.7 million. Abstract pages have received a total of about 400 million unique views from every country, with raw totals a large multiple of that thanks to a myriad of bots (hint: an API is available).

IDEAS did not start in a vacuum. At the time, two other sites were already displaying RePEc data, BibEc and WoPEc, part of the NetEc family of websites dedicated to Economics. The first release of IDEAS was in fact based on code used for these sites, contributed by José Manuel Barrueco Cruz. Over the next years other sites were created to display RePEc data for the user, with ultimately only EconPapers and IDEAS surviving the healthy competition. Other sites outside of the repec.org domain also leverage RePEc data.

Initially, IDEAS was just displaying the bibliographic data that is at the core of RePEc. Over time, it gradually integrated data from other RePEc services, such as author profiles, references and citations, which fields they belong to, how much they are viewed. Rankings and impact factors are now the most popular single pages after the search form.

IDEAS has also little by little added some custom features for the user, most prominently MyIDEAS that allows economists to build an online bibliography or track new additions to RePEc in many customizable ways. With the recent pandemic, a calendar of online seminars was introduced and proved to be quite popular.

IDEAS never got funding. It has been hosted over time by three sponsors: Université du Québec à Montréal, the University of Connecticut, and the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.


RePEc in July 2022

August 8, 2022

While the Summer months typically put RePEc sites somewhat into a lull in terms of traffic, the CitEc project continues to add newly discovered citations at a furious pace. We welcome three new RePEc archives: Regional Agency for Technology and Innovation (Puglia), CoronaNet Project, INAPP. We counted 364,085 file downloads and 1,490,661 abstract views on the reporting RePEc services. And here are the milestones reached last month:
2,000,000 cumulative book chapter downloads
15,000 authors in the RePEc Genealogy
5,000 indexed software components