Good practices for RePEc archive maintainers

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.

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