Searching on IDEAS: a tutorial

With over 3.5 million items of economic research, the RePEc bibliographic database is daunting. Lucky, various RePEc services make is manageable for the users. One such service is IDEAS. It allows the contents to be browsed in various ways. This post is about the search options it offers.

IDEAS has a basic search box on every page. The front page, the advanced search page and any search result page offers more options and features.

Keyword syntax
The search syntax is quite simple. Type a series of keywords and the search engine will look for matches assuming you want all those words present. In other words, it inserts a + (plus) sign between each keyword. If you do not want one keyword, that, is, you want to exclude results mentioning a particular word, prepend a ~ (tilde) sign before that word:

money growth ~inflation

looks for all mentions of money and growth that do not mention inflation. If you only want results that include the literal “money growth”. then use these double quotations marks. Results will then only show when these two words appear together:

“money growth” ~inflation

Sometimes, a keyword can be expressed with various words. Below we discuss synonyms, but in the meanwhile, you can list alternatives with | (pipe). Use parentheses to make the search clear:

(money | currency | monetary) growth ~inflation

You can nest these declarations at will.

Keyword stemming and synonyms
IDEAS search uses algorithmic word stemming. This allows to find on the basis of one word others in the same family. For example, searching for “count” finds also “counts”, “counting”, “counter”, etc. This is algorithmic, and thus not foolproof. In doubt, use more words with the pipe (|). Note that you cannot use wildcards (“count*”).

IDEAS search uses a custom synonym dictionary for economic terms. For example, “ML” will also search for “maximum likelihood”. If you feel some synonyms are missing, there is a form to suggest more (also available from any search result page).

Search options
You can limit the search in various ways:

  • Document types: articles, papers, books, chapters, software, or all
  • Search field:abstract, keywords, title, author, or all
  • Start year
  • End year

Result options
IDEAS offers various sort options for the results. Every search result receives a relevance score that is used for the default sorting but there are other options, such a date published, date added to RePEc, citation counts, alphabetical (title), and combinations thereof.

Search within series or JEL code
There is also a search box on any series, journal or JEL code page. This allows to perform a search within that series, journal or JEL code. The initial search form is simple, the results page allows to refine in the same way as for general searches.

Saving your search results
MyIDEAS is a personalized tool that allows in particular to save searches and search results. It requires to have an account on the Author RePEc Service, which is used for authentication. Once logged into MyIDEAS, you can click on any blue “Save to MyIDEAS” next to a search result and it will be saved to your personal bibliography. The collected results can be sorted into folders and exported into various formats.

You can also save the search itself to MyIDEAS. This allows you to see what has been added to RePEc for since particular search since you last checked in MyIDEAS. You can also get weekly email digests with the additions.

Other tricks

  • Searching for a journal name will likely give a link to the journal page on IDEAS
  • Search for “AuthorOne AuthorTwo (Year)” yields all items these two authors have published together in that year.
  • Search only among software and keywords with the name of a software gives all components using that software.

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