RePEc services reach major traffic milestones

The cumulative number of downloads through RePEc services has just surpassed 120 million, and the numbers of views of abstract pages has reached 500 million. Before discussing how we reached these milestones, let us understand what these numbers mean.

Lots of websites use RePEc data. A list of those we know about is found on the RePEc homepage. Some of them provide detailed traffic data to LogEc. The reporting sites are currently EconPapers, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet. Previously, NetEc and Economists Online would report until they shut down. LogEc takes all that data and analyzes it to remove anything that does not look like human traffic and delete any repeats. Doubtful cases go through additional human review. Typically much over 90% is thrown out in this process.

Two metrics are used: abstract views, that is, viewing by a human of the abstract page of a paper or article on the websites of the reporting RePEc services, and downloads, that is, any clicks downloading full texts from the publishers through the reporting RePEc service, whether the download is successful or not (bad links, gated material).

There are about 3.6 million items indexed in RePEc. RePEc has existed for 24 years. If we assume that on average an item has been indexed in RePEc for 10 years, we have that on average an item’s abstract is viewed just under 14 times a year and downloaded about 3.3 times a year. Or 140 cumulative abstract views and 33 cumulative downloads.

How did RePEc traffic evolve over time? The graphs below shows that it has increased fast at the start, then ebbed considerably and is picking up again. A 2014 blog post has some conjectures about why this prolonged dip happened. With a few more years of observations since that post, we believe the cannibalization hypothesis is the most likely one: the reporting RePEc services have been there from the start, while newer RePEc services do not report traffic data. If they have taken any traffic away from the reporting ones, overall RePEc has been going up all along, we just cannot measure it.

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