Should IDEAS add reader-contributed user notes to abstract pages?

November 28, 2018

RePEc is always looking for ways to offer more useful services to the Economics community. One suggestion that we receive on a regular basis is to make is possible to add public comments, “user notes”, about the papers disseminated by RePEc. In this blog post, we offer a proposal for such a feature on IDEAS, with proposed rules and a poll to see whether the Economics community would be interested in this new feature.

This should give the opportunity to readers of the papers to offer their comments, for authors to provide clarifications, for conference discussants to provide their thoughts to a wider audience, and even for referees to make public their reports, if they wish so.

Rules of user notes on IDEAS

  1. A RePEc user account (RePEc Author Service) with clear identification is necessary to post a user note.
  2. There is a delay of a day between the creation of an account and the privilege of posting.
  3. Posts retain the name of the poster even after deletion of the account.
  4. Posts should remain professional and on topic. Readers can report abuses to moderators (no registration required). The text of moderated posts will become invisible, with poster name still visible and reason for moderation declared. Posters can appeal moderation decisions.
  5. Registered authors and previous posters in a thread will be alerted about a new user note. Authors have the opportunity to opt out of alerts for the associated paper or all their papers.
  6. A bulletin board is available to see new user notes. Boards are also available by subfield (if no subfield can be determined automatically by JEL codes or NEP reports, the first poster can set the subfield).
  7. A user note posted for one version of a paper will be visible for all versions of that paper.
  8. User notes are in plain text, with no attachments and no links, of at most 5,000 characters. Posters can thread several posts, though.
  9. There will be no counting of points, likes, upvotes, scores, or other games associates with this.
  10. This set of rules can change as experience warrants, after consultation with users.

This poll is open until 26 December 2018, midnight CST.

How does RePEc promote Open Access?

October 25, 2018

This week is Open Access Week, and this gives us the opportunity to highlight how RePEc has been promoting open access to economic literature since 1997 (and since 1992 with its predecessor projects). We want to distinguish here two ways research is open in economics: through pre-prints and through open access journals.


Economics has a long tradition of pre-prints that predates the web. Usually called working papers or discussion papers, they have become popular because publication delays are very long in economics (measured in years). The origin of RePEc lies in making the dissemination of those pre-prints more efficient by providing central services for their discovery. Before, it was very difficult for those outside existing top institutions to know what the current frontier of research was. As is still valid now, publication in journals was really a historical record of where the research frontier was a few years earlier. Now, RePEc has records for over 800,000 pre-prints and disseminates them through web sites, mailing lists, RSS feeds and Twitter. They are also included in the citation analysis and they are indeed cited on a level field with journal articles. In fact, RePEc does not privilege journal articles over pre-prints, yet working papers are downloaded seven more times than the corresponding articles.

For those who stumble upon a journal article in a RePEc site, the alternative version as a pre-print is offered when available. This is particularly useful when the journal is gated: this allows the reader without a subscription to still have a read of the full paper. Sometimes it is not the final version, and sometimes it is even a more complete version as the editorial process may have required cuts. Such links from article to pre-print are particularly frequent for the most cited works.

Open access journals

RePEc is also indexing journal articles, and this includes the open access ones. Typically, they are noted with a special notice indicating that the full text can be downloaded freely. In addition, gated journals are not privileged in any way over open access ones: RePEc invites all journals to be indexed, as long as they are willing to follow our instructions. This allows small independent journals to get the same opportunity as journals from the largest commercial publishers to be searched and found on RePEc sites. In fact, free downloads does lead to more frequent downloads.

Help build the academic tree of Economics: the RePEc Genealogy

April 22, 2018

Beyond the open bibliography that lays the foundation of RePEc, various services have emerged that enhance the data collected with RePEc. One of them is the RePEc Genealogy. The goal of this initiative is to build an academic family tree for Economics, recording who was advised by whom, where and when. It thus tries to build links among the over 50,000 economists registered with the RePEc Author Service as well as the institutions listed in EDIRC. At the time of writing this, close to 13,000 economists from over 1000 programs are listed in the RePEc Genealogy.

The data is collected by the community: The RePEc Genealogy is a wiki, and all you need is a registration with the RePEc Author Service to add information to it. You can make sure your own record is complete, add your students or whose of your advisor, or ensure that your graduate program or alma mater are properly recorded. Over 3,000 economists have already contributed to it. Go to the RePEc Genealogy crowdsourcing tool to participate and see some statistics about the genealogy.

How is the collected data used? Of course, one can browse the site for information. But the data is also used in other ways: IDEAS uses it to complement author profiles, to compute rankings of graduate programs (publications from all years or last 10 years), a ranking of economist by graduation cohorts. Finally, data from the Genealogy is starting to be used for research, along with data from the rest of RePEc. You could be part of the data that you are analysing! For a listing of papers using RePEc data, see here.

IDEAS inaugurates new design

February 15, 2018

The IDEAS website just went live with a new design. The new layout is configured to keep the functionalities of the website while making it more intuitive for the casual user, and more pleasing to the eye. It also come with a new search engine (now with sorting by citations) and a few new features, the major one being that MyIDEAS now has the option to send weekly digests by email so that users can keep current about the keywords, authors, serials and JEL codes they follow. We hope users will find this site to be an improvement, and comments and suggestions are welcome. Known issues are tracked here. And the site sports a new logo: IDEAS logo

PS: The directory of economics institutions, EDIRC, has undergone a similar layout change.

RePEc Genealogy tutorial

June 28, 2017

The RePEc Genealogy is an academic family tree of economists. It provides information about where and when economists obtained their final degree, and who advised them for the final degree. At the time of this writing, over 12,000 economists are indexed in the RePEc Genealogy. The data is crowd-sourced, meaning that anybody with a RePEc account can amend records, much like Wikipedia.

Besides the curiosity factor of learning the background of economists, the assembled data is useful in several ways. One is that the data about the graduate programs is used to evaluate them. Close to 1000 are currently listed, and the research performance of their graduates is used to rank them. The data is also used by researchers for various analyses of the Economics profession.

As mentioned, the site is crowd-sourced. This tutorial shows how you can help in contributing to it (click on images for a larger view).

Logging in

Click on Make additions and changes in the side bar to get to the log-in page. This is the standard log-in procedure in RePEc and requires your RePEc Short-ID. If you do not know you Short-ID, follow this tutorial (new window).

Select a person to amend

Once logged in, you will be presented with this form:

Click on “yourself” to amend your Genealogy record. To amend someone else’s, you will need this person’s Short-ID. You likely do not know it. But if you enter parts of the name in the last field, options will be offered to you, like this:

Notice how there are several option, as there are several Richard Smith in RePEc. To ensure you have the right person, you can click on anyone’s link and it will open their IDEAS profile in a new window. Once you have the right person, enter their Short-ID in the first field and submit.

Amend a record

This is the standard form for data entry. Again, it all works with Short-IDs for people and RePEc handles for institutions. For institutions, one can either look up the handle (it always starts with RePEc:edi:) on the EDIRC directory of institutions, other enter a few letters (up to seven) relevant to the name of the institution, and a few choices will offered. Similarly, if one does not know the name of the advisor, enter the name and RePEc Short-IDs will be offered, if the person is registered. For example:

Gives you the following suggestions:

After entering the relevant handle and Short-ID, the form is completed:

Within 10 minutes the record will be created or amended on the live website. Buttons below the standard form allow you to amend further records, either by adding students that the person you just amended may have advised, or the advisor of this person, or anybody else, for examples other students who graduated from your program.

Literature search on IDEAS: a tutorial

March 23, 2017

RePEc is foremost a initiative to enhance the dissemination of economics research. IDEAS is one of several RePEc services that make the RePEc bibliographic database available to anybody. This tutorial demonstrates how IDEAS can be leveraged to perform powerful literature searches.


A good starting point can be to do a search for some keyword. A search on IDEAS can be much more useful that a search on a more general tool as IDEAS is dedicated to economics, thus results should not be “polluted” by results from other fields or that are not research. Say you are interested in some economic aspect of elephants (an example actually requested in a live demonstration). Then search for “elephant” is sufficient to give you all the economic literature on the pachyderms. There is a search form on every IDEAS page in the top right corner, and there is also a dedicated page with advanced options.

At the time of this writing, a search for “elephant” yields 298 results. For the following, we will use as an example one search results that caught our eye: Downward sloping demand for environmental amenities and international compensation: elephant conservation and strategic culling, a working paper.


Another way to find a starting point for your literature search is to browse by topic. For this, we have the JEL Classification from the Journal of Economic Literature. While by far not every item in RePEc has a JEL code, this again can be a useful starting point. This may require quite a bit of exploration for the newcomer, as one may have to navigate several branches until one finds the right topic. Or there may not be a close fit. For example, the economics of elephants does not have its own code in the JEL classification, it is somewhere in code Q.

Often, if you start with a reference paper, the associated JEL code can help you. On IDEAS, you find it in the “related research” tab. There is none for our elephant paper, but here is an example for another paper (as for all images, clicking on it will show your a larger view):

Another way to browse is to look at the publication profiles of the authors of the studies you have found. Often, at least one author is registered with RePEc and has assembled all their works into their profile. There may be other relevant items there.


RePEc tries whenever possible to extract the references in the indexed works and then tries to link those references with the holdings in RePEc. This process is fraught with stumbling blocks, but it worked in our example, as can be seen below. References typically contain the most relevant literature that preceded the work that is considered. These works are likely to be important. And as you browse or follow the references, you will start noticing that the the same works keep appearing. These should most likely be part of your final list.


As we have references, we can also do links the other way: where has this work been cited? This provides you with the literature that follows the work that is considered. And indeed, our example has been cited elsewhere. You can then explore these works, what references they have and what their authors have also written.

Find other versions

Sometimes, you cannot access a particular work because the publisher requires a subscription. However, there may be a previous version available that is in open access. In such cases, IDEAS will tell you with a red message that you can find a link in the “related works section” as in the example below. The links also work the other way: while looking at an open access version, it allows you to find where it was ultimately published. In some cases, it even allows you to find associated data or computer code.

Keeping current

If you want to continue to follow the literature you are interested in, there are several options available to you. See this blog post to learn about them. One of them it to use MyIDEAS, which can also be useful when you are doing your literature search, as is allows you to save items into folders as you work on IDEAS and then export the bibliographic references in various formats.

How to follow new Economics literature with RePEc

October 17, 2016

RePEc is basically a scheme to organize and collect the Economics literature, with all the relevant data made available by the providers and publishers. RePEc services then collect, organize and enhance this data and make it available to the public. In this post, we want to show how the interested reader can stay up-to-date with the latest publications in their field. All these services are offered free of charge and are managed by volunteers.


NEP (New Economics Papers) is likely the most popular service in this respect. As its name indicates, it focuses on papers and not journal articles, on the premise that the frontier of research is with pre-preprints like working and discussion papers. Given the publication delays that are endemic in Economics, this makes sense. NEP is organized in over 90 fields, each with a human editor who determines which of the 500 to 1000 weekly new papers are relevant. The weekly reports are then disseminated through email lists, RSS feeds, and Twitter. On the NEP homepage, click on the report name to find these options.


EconPapers is a comprehensive service that allows to search or browse the entire contents indexed by RePEc. Its advanced search form has the option to select only search results that were added recently, and to rank the results by that date.


IDEAS is also a comprehensive service with the entire contents of RePEc. It has a personal area requiring a free user login, MyIDEAS, which allows the user to follow various objects, meaning that any addition to RePEc that correspond to characteristics set by the user are displayed. The objects can be serials (papers series or journals), authors, JEL codes, or results from the search engine. Results are stored in the accounts, email notification is planned for the future.


Socionet is a service based in Russia that is comprehensive as well and that is available in Russian and English. It features the Socionet Personal Zone which allows a registered user to configure one or more robots that keep track of additions and either puts them into a folder on the website or sends them by email.