Good practices for RePEc archive maintainers

October 27, 2009

The bibliographic data displayed in RePEc services originates in about 1100 participating archives, each maintained by a volunteer (see hee for instructions to start a RePEc archive). The quality of the data in RePEc thus depends on the quality of what is entered at the archive level, and there are obviously some variations. In general, we recommend to provide as many bibliographic details as possible so as to improve the chances of each work to be found in user searches. While missing fields are sometimes frustrating for users, the incorrect use of bibliographic fields is more so. This post provides some advice to RePEc archive maintainers regarding the most frequent violations of RePEc taxonomy.

  • It is always a good idea to check your series from time to time on EconPapers and IDEAS. A good opportunity is when you get your monthly email. That allows often to uncover errors. Also, use the syntax checker on EconPapers, which usually uncovers why some item is no showing up on RePEc.
  • The most frequent imprecision in RePEc data is the abuse of the Author-Name field. It should only contain the name of the author, but not his affiliation (which belongs into Author-Workplace-Name) nor his email address (Author-Email). Also, there should be only one author per Author-Name field. With multiple authors, repeat the field.

    Correct use of the Author-Name field is important, because it allows to attribute the works to the appropriate authors in the RePEc Author Service. It frustrates authors when they do not find their own works due to miscodings.

  • Generally, put in the field what the calls for. There is a surprising number of Title fields that actually contain abstracts, for example. And keywords or classification codes do not belong in the abstract, but in Keywords and Classification-JEL.
  • Make sure to provide a date for your bibliographic item. Without a date, it cannot be displayed in chronological order. For working papers, they cannot be considered for diffusion through NEP as it cannot be established whether they are new. For working papers, use the Creation-Date field, with a syntax like yyyy, yyyy-mm or yyyy-mm-dd. For articles use Year. The relevant date is the one at which the work was written, not when the bibliographic record was created.
  • Links to online texts are provided with the File-URL field. It should link directly to the pdf file, not to an intermediate abstract page. There are two reasons: First, users already see an abstract page on the RePEc service. Second, we need a direct link to perform the citation analysis.
  • The easiest way to including an abstract in a bibliographic record is to cut-and-paste from the pdf file. In some cases, some characters do not travel well. This is especially the case for ligatures like “ff”, “fl”, “fi”, and the like. Also, end-of-line hyphenations need to be removed from abstracts. Thus, always read through an abstract after pasting it.
  • Never, never recycle handles. Handles are unique identifiers that are used throughout RePEc, for example to assign paper to authors, relate references and determine what is a new record. Avoid changing handles, as this ruptures all these relations that need to be reestablished. But never, never reassign an existing handle to a different item, because this renders exiting relations erroneous.
  • Bibliographic records should not contain any HTML encoding. If a special character needs to be displayed, says an accented character, use UTF-8 encoding. The usual text editors will provide the byte-order mark (BOM) at the start of the file indicating that it is UTF-8 encoded. But you you generate the files through scripts, they need to explicitly add the BOM.

International Open Access Week

October 20, 2009

RePEc is highlighted in the Boston College Libraries’ newsletter, special issue for OA Week:

Polls on ranking disclosures

October 15, 2009

Rankings have become an important part of RePEc and we regularly get request about non-published rankings. Indeed, depending on the ranking in question, only the top 5%, 10% or 20% among authors or institutions are displayed, depending on the geographic or field aggregation. Given the insistence of some requests, I am now considering whether RePEc rankings should be disclosed in a more extensive fashion. Before making any changes, I am seeking the opinion of users.

But first, let me expose the reasons of the limited disclosure so far. Our interest is to have as many institutions and people participate in RePEc, and keep their data there current. Rankings provide the right incentives for this. Thus RePEc participation is our focus, and rankings are an accessory (and we still consider them to be experimental, as the data is still far from complete). We know, however, that at least some people do not like their poor rankings exposed and would thus remove their registration in RePEc if this were exposed. Thus, too extensive ranking disclosure would defeat their purpose. But I have no idea how widespread this would be. The second reason for limited disclosure is that rankings become less reliable as one goes further down the list. Consider, for example, that 28% of all authors have no recorded citation. Third, full disclosure will create a lot of large files and tables. We have about 22000 authors and 4500 institutions to rank…

The following polls are not binding. There results will help to define what users want. Feel free to discuss aspects that go beyond the options of the polls in the comment section (of this post, not of the individual polls). I will then decide what to do. For both author and institution rankings, the options are: 1) keep things as is, 2) disclose all the way to the top half, 3) keep things as is, but provide rankings for the following one in clusters. For example, rank the top 5% as now, then have a list of the top 6-10%, another for the top 10-15%. 4) Provide full rankings. Polls will be open until November 21, 2009.

Update: Polls are now closed. A post soon will discuss results as well as various adjustments to rankings.

RePEc in September 2009

October 6, 2009

Now that vacations are over, activity on RePEc is as high as ever. Several new features were introduced in September: a Facebook application that allows to display one’s latest research and experimental blogs by NEP editors discussing research in some fields. Traffic has pickep up again, with 763,583 file downloads and 2,735,405 abstract views. Also, 11 new archives joined: University of Bath, Australian Journal of Labour Economics, University of Luxembourg, University of Pécs, University of Tsukuba, Bar-Ilan University, Australian National University (IV), c.MET-05, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, Kenyon College, International Association for Energy Economics.

Finally, we passed some thresholds, including some major ones:
800,000 works listed
250,000 online working papers
200,000 article abstracts
25,000 NEP reports