The worldwide reach of RePEc

December 26, 2008

Following up on the post two weeks ago about how RePEc tries to contribute to the democratization of research, it is interesting to how far RePEc reaches in the world. While we do not have any recent study looking at who uses the RePEc services as a reader, we know much better who the contributors are. First the authors, of which about 18,500 are distributed over 118 countries (and all US states). Then, the 960+ RePEc archives, which each contribute bibliographic data to the project, are dispersed in 64 countries. But some of those archives collect data from several institutions. Thus, we actually have publications from 70 countries (and all but five US states: AK, CO, NE, NH and SD). And this is how this would look like on a world map:

Distribution of publications across the world

Institutional data in RePEc

December 19, 2008

RePEc gathers information not only about publications and authors, but also institutions. Specifically, the EDIRC project (Economics Departments, Institutes and Research Centers) catalogues since 1995 all academics and government institutions that employ a significant share of economists, including think tanks and associations. For-profit organizations (banks, consultants, etc.) are listed if they contribute their publications to RePEc. As of today, 11,000 institutions are listed, including over 600 associations. Over 4000 have at least one registered author and about 1000 have some publication in RePEc.

The collected institutional data is used and displayed in various ways throughout RePEc. Authors use it when
they register to determine their affiliations. So do RePEc archives for their publications. Author and institution data are combined on EDIRC to compile the publication output of all institutions. Combine this with citation data from CitEc and download data from LogEc to determine institutional rankings.

Note that all the information about institutions has been gathered with the help of a lot of people.

RePEc and the democratization of research

December 9, 2008

In the last issue of the American Economic Review, the following article caught my eye: Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation by Ajay Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb. In short, it documents who gained in electrical engineering faculties from the reduced cost of collaboration through the introduction of Bitnet, in the early Internet days. The basic result is that the middle-tier universities benefited the most. Indeed, the top ones were already well connected with each other, and the middle ones took advantage of collaborating with the top ones.

The main goal of RePEc is precisely the democratization of research. Given publication delays in Economics, if one wants to stay abreast of developments at the frontier of research, one needs to read working papers. Before the Internet, the only way to get hold of them was either if you were already at a top ranked Economics department, or if you were somehow within a club of well connected researchers. Just being aware of the most current research was a challenge for anybody outside these circles. This is what motivated Thomas Krichel, as a research assistant in 1991, to find ways to learn about new working papers, and share what he found. This initiative evolved into RePEc in 1997.

Are Elite Universities Losing Their Competitive Edge? by E. Han Kim, Adair Morse & Luigi Zingales documents that Economics faculty in elite universities where more productive at least in part due to their location in the 1970s, and that such a location effect has disappeared by the 1990s. While it is open whether RePEc has contributed to such democratization, we have always favored it: everybody should be able to learn about current research, and everybody should be able to contribute to it.

RePEc in November 2008

December 2, 2008

We have just experienced a tremendous month. First, about 25’000 works were added, second we have seen traffic like never before. The only downside was that we had to move the blog due to various issues.

The push in new material was partly due to additions from Agecon Search, as well as from a lot of activity from many other archives and finally from 13 new archives, more than usual: ADRES, Universität Wuppertal, CORE, INRA, University of Ottawa, University of Osijek, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Pion Ltd, University of Texas at San Antonio, University of Indonesia, Asociación Española de Profesores Universitarios de Contabilidad, University of Lancaster (II), Bilgesel Yayincilik.

In terms of traffic, we counted 860,187 file downloads and 3,292,711 abstract views on Econpapers, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet. These are easily new records.

Which brings us to the thresholds we passed during the past month, an impressive list:
50’000’000 cumulative article abstract views
12’000’000 cumulative article downloads
7’000’000 cumulative downloads on EconPapers
3’000’000 monthly abstract views
800’000 monthly downloads
650’000 works listed
550’000 online works listed
350’000 abstracts listed
270’000 working papers listed
200’000 online working papers listed
200’000 working paper abstracts listed
125’000 working papers with references
120’000 articles with citations
4’000 institutions with registered authors
2’000 books listed
800 journals