A new initiative on research blogging

September 30, 2009

We have discussed on various occasions new means of research dissemination and peer review on this blog. One way that could show promise is blogs that discuss research. There are still only few of them, and their readership is still rather small compared to the big current events blogs (and it may be better so). We want to explore whether blog can become a sustainable and useful way of dissemination, discussing and even advancing research in Economics.

To this end, a blog aggregator specialized on research blogs in Economics was created last year: EconAcademics. Some NEP editors are now starting an experiment whereby they highlight and open for discussion one working paper a week. This paper is taking from their weekly list of new working papers, specific to their field. For now, two such NEP blogs are in place: NEP-DGE (Dynamic General Equilibrium) and NEP-OPM (Open Macroeconomics). Others may follow soon and will be listed both in the side bar of this blog and on EconAcademics.

We hope that the selected papers will generate some interesting discussion. We will see whether the profession is ready for this type of discussion. Earlier attempts with the defunct WoPEc and with the Society of Labor Economists failed. A current initiative at the Economics E-Journal seems to work somewhat. Watch and participate in the NEP blogs!

How abstract views and downloads are counted

September 19, 2009

Authors and RePEc archive maintainers receive monthly emails with various statistics, and among the most anticipated statistics are our abstract views and download counts. It is important to understand how those statistics are collected and what they measure (and do not measure). Full statistics are available on the LogEc website managed by Sune Karlsson from Örebro University (Sweden).

Participating RePEc services (EconPapers, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet) keep a log of all activity on their sites. This allows us to count page views for the abstract pages of each items in the database (excluding NEP, as abstracts are listed in emails). Logs also record outclicks as users leave the RePEc services to the sites containing the full texts they seeks to download. This allows us to count “downloads”. Quotation marks are required as it is impossible to record whether the download was successful, for example in the case of gated publisher sites. Note also that this means that downloads that have not transited through a RePEc cannot be counted, as we do not have access to local logs.

LogEc gathers the logs from the participating services and aggregates the statistics. This involves much more than bean counting, though. Indeed, one first needs to exclude robot activity, as only human activity is of interest. Some robots declare themselves as such, but other hide their identity. One has thus to infer from various patterns what IP addresses are likely robots. This is an important step, as robots represent typically 75% of raw abstract views. Robots include spiders from many search engines as well as other initiatives on the Internet.

One needs also to weed out multiple views or downloads by the same user. This brings us to detecting attempts at increasing counts by authors. Obviously, we cannot reveal here how this is done, but let it be known that we have detected fraud even by authors using multiple Internet service providers. The methods used lead to some undercounting, though. Multiple users behind the same cache server may be counted only once, as it may for example happen to employees of the US Federal Reserve Banks that use RePEc.

And we are still not done pruning. LogEc then checks for additional patterns that need to be vetted by a human eye. Unusual activity is then checked and often reconciled with traffic from popular blogs, magazines and newspapers. But on other occasions, traffic surges cannot be explained in licit ways and need to be cleaned out.

After all these manipulations, statistics are published and disseminated. And despite substantial pruning, RePEc services still get over 2,000,000 abstract views and 600,000 downloads every month. See LogEc for details.

RePEcFB – An integration of your RePEc data into your Facebook profile

September 9, 2009

Following a suggestion on this blog and the creation of a RePEc Facebook group, we are happy to announce that a new service went online last week. The Facebook application RePEcFB allows Facebook users to integrate their RePEc data into Facebook. Economists on Facebook can create a small profile box listing their recent work, or a “My research” tab in the Facebook profile giving information about their working papers, publications and other research output. Users can list their affiliations and professional contact data, announce recent papers authored by their Facebook friends, or inform about conferences and other academic events they are going to attend. New papers or affiliations can be directly posted to the Wall and can be commented on by friends.

To use the application you both need a Facebook account and a RePEc author profile with RePEc Author Service. Detailed instructions can be found on the Notes tab of the application’s homepage.

RePEcFB was written by Ben Greiner with the help of László Kóczy, Sune Karlsson, and Thomas Krichel. The software is hosted on Sune’s server at Örebro University. The software is under ongoing development, so feel free to send comments to the author.

RePEc in August 2009

September 3, 2009

The quietest month of the year still brought some important news. RePEc now carries bibliographic information about 1000 journals and 300’000 working papers. We counted 647,942 file downloads and 2,213,814 abstract views for the month. For working papers, this adds up to 25 million downloads since we started counting!

In terms of developments, the RePEc Input Service now also allows journals that for some reason cannot open their own RePEc archive to index their articles in RePEc. Also, EconPapers allows users to download bibliographic data in various formats for their own databases. Both developments are due to Sune Karlsson, who also moved EconPapers and LogEc to new hardware.

During August 2009, the following archives joined RePEc: Sam Houston State University, arXiv, National Insurance Institute of Israel, University of Rome Sapienza (II), Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, EPFL (II), BBVA, Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, Queens University of Charlotte. A special mention regarding arXiv: it is a very large and popular archive in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Sciences that is now feeding its Quantitative Finance content to RePEc.

Finally, here is the traditional list of thresholds passed during the last month:
25,000,000 cumulative working paper downloads
300,000 working papers
150,000 working papers with references
60,000 articles with references
1,000 journals