Understanding update delays in RePEc

May 28, 2009

One of the advantages of RePEc is the extremely rapid update cycle. Once a paper has been added to a RePEc archive, RePEc services like EconPapers and IDEAS usually pick it up and list it within 24 hours. The paper is also disseminated through the NEP email notification service within two weeks. The longer delay comes from the weekly frequency of the emails, the various checks that are performed before submitting the paper to editors and the availability of editors. Papers are also available the next day for authors to claim into their profile on the RePEc Author Service. However, they may not get notified about this until it is their turn in the “automatic search” that rotates through all registered people, currently 27,000. A full cycle there takes close to three months. Indeed, such searches impose quite a burden on the machine, and they yield most of the time no result. When they know a new paper is up, we encourage authors to log in and do a “manual search”.

Other aspects take longer. Citation extraction can take several weeks, as the data about the paper needs to be gathered, analyzed and then compared with exiting material in the database. And once the results are returned to RePEc services, those may take a while, too. While EconPapers tries to add the new data within a day at all the right spots (cited papers, citing paper), IDEAS prefers to work on a rolling basis, refreshing paper pages every 30 days (or sooner if a change was done in the originating RePEc archive). Indeed, IDEAS also needs to adjust author citation pages, recompute statistics for authors and recalculate impact factors. As authors are usually quite impatient, the refresh cycle for authors is 18 days, unless they just modified their profile.

Download and abstract views statistics on LogEc are refreshed once a month, within the first days. A higher frequency is not possible due to the many checks those statistics go through, some of them being performed manually. For the same reason, rankings are released only once a month, except for the impact factors on series and journals, as well as the citation rankings for individual items, which are recomputed along the refresh cycle mentioned above for IDEAS.

And there are many other updates that can take a few days and the data bounces from one service to the other. For example, EDIRC houses data about institutions, and any update there will be reflected in author affiliations as their profiles get refreshed, which can take some wait. And EDIRC gets data about affiliated people from the RePEc Author Service, which can take a pass or two before being visible on the web. Or, information about papers disseminated through NEP are given to RePEc services. IDEAS, for example, uses this to categorize authors into topical fields.

RePEc is not a centralized service. It has servers, data gatherers, analyzers and users disseminated around the globe. They exchange data, but not in real time. Consider that there are over 1000 archives, and that RePEc services are disseminated over a dozen different machines. Still, update time are much, much faster than what one would have expected from any bibliographic service before RePEc came into existence.

Suggestion box

May 23, 2009

RePEc is entirely driven by volunteers, who are also users. Most current volunteers came to RePEc because either they wanted to help with a current project or because they had some idea they wanted implemented in RePEc. We are opening this suggestion box for several reasons: as way to encourage feedback, to encourage more volunteers to come forward and pick a suggestion, and finally have users and RePEc team members discuss the proposed suggestions.

At RePEc, we like to be open. After all, we are creating open bibliographies using open source software, and we encourage open access. RePEc is there for you, so tell us how you want it to be. So, make your suggestion in the comment section below.

Service downtime on Saturday

May 16, 2009

The following RePEc services will not be available Saturday morning (US East Coast time) due to power upgrades at the University of Connecticut server room:

Update: All services but the RePEc Author Service are up. The latter has issues with a software update that was also operated.
Update 2: All services now seem to to be fully operational. Please report any problems.

About self-archiving your research

May 15, 2009

When you write a paper, you typically pursue several goals. One is to publish it in a good journal in order to get recognition for your work. The other is to get read and have an impact (and get citations). While publishing in a good journal may help you achieve the second goal, this is not necessarily so as the access to most journal articles is restricted by subscriptions. One way around this is to make some version of your work available in other ways. This is referred to as self-archiving.

This can be done in several ways, greatly helped by the availability of the Internet:

  1. Have a copy on your web page.
  2. Have a copy in your local working paper series.
  3. Have a copy in your institutional repository, usually managed by the library.
  4. Host a copy elsewhere.

The first solution is clearly not efficient, as people would only find your work there by chance. This would also be the case for the other solutions, but there are good ways to make such works more widely available, RePEc being a major one. Indeed, once a working paper series is indexed in RePEc, it will be available in thematic search engines dedicated to Economics (EconPapers and IDEAS), disseminated through mailing lists and RSS (NEP) and further pushed to other indexers (Econlit, Google Scholar, OAISTER), etc.). But for this to happen, the working paper series would need to be indexed in RePEc (instructions). The same applies to an institutional repository (see more about that).

If these options are not available, the paper can be hosted elsewhere. For RePEc, the Munich Personal RePEc Archive is ready to accept uploads, and has in a couple of years accepted more 8000 papers, including quite a few older ones that researchers wanted to make available to anyone. Another option is SSRN, but this archive does not participate in RePEc.

Regarding self-archiving, the most frequent asked questions is: am I violating a copyright when uploading somewhere a working paper? The short answer is that in the vast majority of cases, no copyright that you may have signed away to a publisher is violated by uploading a pre-print, i.e., a previous version of your work. In many cases, it is sufficient that the working paper simply does not have the published layout, or that it not be the final version. Many publishers even allow post-prints, that is, uploads of final versions onto institutional repositories, as these are more and more mandated by institutions and sponsors. To check what the policy of each publisher is, consult SHERPA/RoMEO. Only in very rare cases does a working paper need to be withdrawn once published in a journal.

Note that when both a self-archived and a published version of a paper are listed in RePEc with the same title, and both are present in an author’s profile, RePEc will link between them. This allows the reader to find where a working paper was ultimately published, or to read a paper hidden behind a journal’s subscription wall. Thus authors: never remove from your profile works that you have authored.

Finally, for more about self-archiving, check out the Self-Archiving FAQ hosted by e-prints.

RePEc in April 2009

May 5, 2009

The big news of the month is that the RePEc Author Service surpassed 20,000 registered authors. When this service started, it was difficult to imagine that it would grow so big, and it continues to grow with about ten new registrants a day.

RePEc also grows with the addition of new participating archives, the following for last month: Monash University, Deakin University, Bank of Lithuania, Universidad Nacional de Salta, Università della Calabria, Rivista di Politica Economica, Institut d’Estudis Regionals i Metropolitans de Barcelona, Italian Department of the Treasury, Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, Advances in Management. With the addition of Lithuania, There are now RePEc archives in 67 countries.

Traffic on our websites was lighter than expected, but still impressive numbers with 756,200 file downloads and 2,600,732 abstract views. This brings us to the thresholds we passed last month:

400,000 listed abstracts
400,000 items listed in author profiles
120,000 papers with JEL codes
50,000 articles with extracted references
20,000 registered authors
5,000 listed chapters
3,000 listed books