How to follow what is new in economics research

February 20, 2014

RePEc offers various tools to keep abreast of latest research developments in economics. Keep in mind that due to the unusually long refereeing and publication process in this field, following what is coming out in journals is often not the best way to keep current. The research frontier is advancing with working papers, and this is why RePEc puts a special focus on those. Note that all resources below are free, as always for RePEc services.


NEP (New Economics Papers) offers email lists and RSS feeds that disseminate approximately every week the latest online working papers across over 90 fields. Field-relevance is determined by volunteer editors who pick the appropriate papers among all working papers newly listed on RePEc during the previous week. Note that if you think a topic is not appropriately covered, you can volunteer as editor of a new report.


MyIDEAS allows you to follow new additions to JEL codes, author profiles, series and journals. This is done through the creation of an account on the IDEAS website. Once logged in, you can add the relevant items while navigating the site.

EconPapers Search

EconPapers allows to limit the search results to documents added recently to RePEc. Use the “Modified last” selection at the bottom left of the search form. One can also limit the list of items by JEL code and recency here.

IDEAS Search

Similarly, IDEAS allows to restrict search results to specific years. When looking up by JEL code, items are sorted with the most recent first.


EconAcademics follows the latest discussion of research on the blogosphere. While it does not necessarily mean this is the most recent research, it is often the case.

Little known RePEc features

June 29, 2013

Since 1997, RePEc services have found various ways of disseminating the bibliographic metadata collected with the RePEc projects. As the data and the types of data have expanded over the years, services were able to add more and more features, some of which are not well known. The purpose of this post is to highlight some of them. A broad introduction to RePEc services was recently posted here.

When a bibliographic item or an author is mentioned on Wikipedia with a link to a RePEc service, a link to the Wikpedia article in provided on the relevant IDEAS page.

The same applies to blog posts that have been identified through the blog aggregator for economic research.

A large number of viewership statistics are available at LogEc. This includes statistics for individual papers and articles, authors, series and journals. For the latter, this includes total readership as well as most popular items within a series or journal. For authors, one can also find the most read authors by country.

All RePEc services offer search functions, But if you do not know what to look for, you can look at a random item.

Publishers provide all bibliographic metadata to RePEc. Sometimes, their data contains errors that prevents the publications to be indexed appropriately, if at all. This can be checked here.

On IDEAS, one can export bibliographic information in various formats for various lists: publications of an author, references of an item, citations of an item, and citations of an author.

It possible to track additions to author profiles, JEL code, series, and journals with MyIDEAS.

MyIDEAS also allows users to flag items they run across IDEAS and keep them in their account. They can then be annotated, sorted into folders and exported in various bibliographic formats.

There is a Facebook plug-in that allows you to display you last three publications. Install it from here. Update: I am told this functionality cannot be obtained on Facebook anymore.

One can obtain a compilation of the publications of all members of an institution. Find th link on the institution’s page at EDIRC, where there is also a link to the publication list of the institution’s alumni, if applicable.

You can also create a list of publications for a custom group of people. See the current lists or create your own here.

If you want to make public a reading list for a topic or a course syllabus, you can create this here.

A few editors have started to determine the most important works in their research area. See RePEc Biblio, where you can volunteer to contribute, too.

Economists are very interconnected through co-authorship. You can explore this co-authorship network at CollEc, where you can also find how far removed from each other any two economists are (“degrees of separation”).

An important part of RePEc is citation analysis. Unfortunately, this fails for some documents, either for technical reasons or because publishers do not furnish relevant data. One can help our citation project CitEc through this form.

RePEc tries to match different versions of the same work. The conditions are that 1) at least one co-authors has all versions in her RePEc profile, and 2) the titles are very similar. When the process fails, for example when the titles are different, users can help through this form

Matching citations to items listed in RePEc is a very complex process, for example because there are many citation formats and because authors do make mistakes in the references. When matches are too uncertain, authors can help. They should click on the “citation” link in their RePEc Author Service profile and accept or reject proposed matches.

A new project tracks where and when an economist got his final degree, and who his advisor was. The data collection is crowd-sourced, so you can participate in the data collection here as well. See the RePEc Genealogy. Collected data will soon be used to evaluate graduate programs.

Unfortunately, we have cases of plagiarism. When relevant authorities do not deal with such cases, afflicted authors can turn to the RePEc Plagiarism Committee, which evaluates cases and possibly names and shames them.

And finally, for economics departments and publishers that do not yet participate and index their publications in RePEc, instructions are available.

BEPress Journals Are Not Open Access Anymore

March 16, 2013

This is the usual story:  Once a free or reasonably priced journal is successful, it is bought, prices are raised, and access restricted. The lure of money is too tempting.

The most recent case concerns the BEPress journals that had pioneered open access in economics (well, actually quasi-open access, but this was acceptable). Aaron Edlin has sold them to DeGruyter, and quasi open access turned into gated access. The author’s rights are disregarded, of course.

We see here that well-defined property rights might bring about economic inefficiency: If a journal can be sold, it will be sold and turned into a goldmine, even if this is inefficient from an economic point of view. This can never happen to RePEc, as it is not owned by anybody. Under the presumption that open access is economically more efficient than gated access, ill defined property rights contribute to efficiency.

As an author make sure that you publish in a journal that cannot be sold, or is unlikely to be sold. Perhaps the existing free journal software should carry a clause that free use is permitted only for open access journals, and other uses are permitted only on paying a stiff fee. This would make credible to the authors that their work remains accessible and would solve the problem even with well-defined property rights, but this is unlikely to happen.

A compendium of RePEc services

March 12, 2013

Since its formal founding 16 years ago, RePEc has grown into a large collection of various services. Users are aware of some, but not all of them. This is an attempt to collect all services that use RePEc data. RePEc is in fact just a way of organizing and collection bibliographic data in economics. Publishers index their works and put it in the public domain through RePEc. Service then use this data in various ways, in part by enhancing it. All linked services are completely free to users and managed by volunteers.

Browsing and searching the database

These are the most basic functions you would want to do with a bibliographic database. Several services provide this. The most popular are IDEAS and EconPapers. Others include Economists Online and Socionet. What distinguishes these services is that they report usage statistics (see below). Yet others that use RePEc include: EconLit, EconStor, Google Scholar, Inomics, Microsoft Academic Search, OAISter/WORLDCAT, Scirus and Sciverse. Shop around and use the one that is the most to your liking!

Curated material

While most the services above provide the complete RePEc bibliographic data, it is the user who has to sift through the material to find what she needs. A few services act as facilitators by helping users with the help of editors who sort and curate the material. NEP disseminates through email and RSS feeds the latest working papers across over 90 fields. The new RePEc Biblio determines the 10-20 most relevant papers in a growing number of fields and sub-fields. identifies economic research currently being discussed in blogs.

Specifically for authors

Some services are especially geared towards authors. The RePEc Author Service allows them to create a portfolio of all the works listed in RePEc. Other services then can link from the works to the profiles, and authors can get statistics and new citation notifications. CollEc analyses co-authorship networks and allows, for example, to find how many steps removed from each other any two authors are. The RePEc Genealogy allows to see who graduated where and when and who was the advisor. Finally, the RePEc Plagiarism Committee handles potential plagiarism cases and votes on them, in particular whether to name and shame offending authors.


Several RePEc services report traffic on their website, which allows to compute a host of statistics, which are displayed at LogEc. Those, along with citation numbers, allow to compute a large number of rankings of authors, institutions, and papers, including impact factors for serials.

And more

As already mentioned, there is a citation analysis project, CitEc, which uses complex algorithms to extracts references from pdf files and match them with RePEc content.

MyIDEAS allows a user to track other authors, JEL codes, journals or working papers series, as well as build a personal bibliography while browsing on IDEAS. The Socionet Personal Zone also provides some of these functionalities.

EDIRC is a directory of economics institutions with plenty of links to affiliated authors and alumni, as well as compilations of their publications.

Finally, for those authors who do not have the benefit of their local institution participating in RePEc with its publications (see instructions), the Munich Personal RePEc Archive (MPRA) allows them to upload their papers to be included in RePEc.

The Purpose of Journals

February 14, 2013

The editor of the Economics Bulletin, John Conley, has noted that many things go wrong with economic journals. Here is the abstract of his letter:

This letter calls attention a recent trend in economics publishing that seems to have slipped under the radar: large increases in submissions rates across a wide range of economics journals and steeply declining acceptance rates as a consequence. It is argued that this is bad for scholarly communication, bad for economics as a science, and imposes significant and wasteful costs on editors, referees. authors. and especially young people trying to establish themselves in the profession. It is further argued that the new “Big Deal” business model used by commercial publishers is primarily responsible for this situation. Finally it is argued that this presents a compelling reason to take advantage of new technologies to take control of certifying and distributing research away from commercial publishers and return it to scholarly community.

According to Conley,

The purpose of academic journals is to facilitate scholarly communication, filter for errors, and maintain the record of scientific advance.

This is, in my opinion, an idealized conception that does not reflect  the purpose of economic journals anymore. For economic research, the current economic journals are largely redundant. Conley himself notes this:

I seldom actually read journals  any more. I research topics using Google Scholar, RePEc, SSRN, and so on. It is inconvenient to sign up  with publishers to get tables of contents emailed to me or to login to my university’s library web portal to  search a journal issue by issue. I find it adds very little value over a more general search in any event. In  short, certification remains important to help people gain tenure and promotion and to get a sense of the  quality and centrality of individual scholars. However, neither certification by a journal, nor the collection  of similar papers within the bound or even electronic pages of a specific journal has very much meaning to  me when I am trying to understand where the debate in a subfield is at any given moment. As a result, I  was beginning to come to the conclusion that while they are irritating, commercial publishers are “mostly  harmless” to the research enterprise itself as publishing itself is becoming mostly irrelevant.

This coincides with my own observation: researchers don’t need journals. The main purpose of the journals is currently to ease the work of hiring committees. People publish in order to get a job. The wish to communicate new findings appears secondary in most cases.

Journals could serve worthier aims, however: they are needed by students, college teachers, and others who would like to obtain reliable information but can not as easily  separate the wheat from the chaff as active researchers can.

The important point Conley is making is, however, that the current journal system, although largely irrelevant for research, is nevertheless

bad for scholarly communication, bad for economics as a science, and imposes significant and wasteful costs on editors, referees. authors. and especially young people trying to establish themselves in the profession.

I fear, however, that John Conley’s suggestion to increase the number of journals would not improve the situation very much. As long as hiring committees use the reputation of journals, rather than the reputation of individuals,  a useful system of  “communication, filter for errors, and maintain the record of scientific advance” is practically blocked.

What can be done besides increasing the number of journals? Here some further suggestions.

1. Hiring committees can restrict the number of papers to be considered for judging an applicant to, say, three and disregard all other writings. This may help to reduce the number of publications and thereby reduce the need for further journals; it would also tilt the quality-quantity trade-off in favor of quality. (I think this has been a practice in Berkeley.)

2. Hiring committees that feel incompetent to judge the substantive quality of a contribution and have to resort to statistics of some sort may turn to citation counts of individual authors, as obtainable through  Google Scholar, Web of Science, or RePEc). This is a better solution than the the current practice of relying on the prestige of journals and would take account of the fact that  many papers in top journals are not so good, and medium-quality journals publish excellent articles.

MyIDEAS: your personal space on IDEAS

January 25, 2013

We are proud to introduce an important new feature to the IDEAS website. MyIDEAS is a personal space for the IDEAS user where she can save the papers and articles found on the site and organize them into folders. Think of it like navigating an online store and selecting items for purchase. The difference is that your “cart” is a list of references that you can sort at will into categories you can name.

In addition, MyIDEAS allows you to follow additions to JEL codes, series and journals, as well as what authors may have added to their RePEc profiles.

To use this new service, authentication is necessary, which happens like for others services through an account in the RePEc Author Service, Once cleared, the user finds on all relevant IDEAS pages the option to “add” or “follow” the displayed person or item. This works thanks to a cookie whose sole purpose is to identify the user as he navigates the site. It does, however, not track the user. Contents of the MyIDEAS accounts remain entirely private.

We hope users will find this service useful and welcome comments for improvements or new features.

Update (January 26): Following several requests, two features have been added: one can put annotations on one’s bibliographics listings, and the latter can be exported in various formats.

My citation count just went down!

May 26, 2012

We sometimes get angry emails from authors pointing out that their citation count decreased. And this is quite understandable, as no one likes to see decreasing citation numbers. But it can happen, and most of the time it is for very legitimate reasons, not some conspiracy. Here is a rundown.

  1. A citing or cited item has been removed from RePEc. This is rare but does happen on occasion. We recommend against removing item in general, as discussed in a previous blog post. Hint: the fact that a working paper got published in a journal is very rarely a reason to remove its link to full text, let alone its entire entry.
  2. A RePEc archive renumbers its handles. A handle is the identifier of every item in RePEc. It is supposed to be unique and permanent, yet every month some archive has the bright idea to renumber its material. The consequence: the citation analysis needs to be completely redone, and all the other links as well. This leads to a temporary decrease in citation numbers.
  3. When different versions of some work are linked, citations are consolidated. Thus what counted as separate citations now only counts as one. And this version consolidation can happen for the citing or the cited work.
  4. The author removed some work from the author profile, for example when a paper got published. Citations to the working paper version are then temporarily lost until the article is indexed in the citation service.
  5. An error with RePEc. This can happen despite our best efforts, and it always has been temporary.

And lastly, the citation count in the statistics sent to authors is different from what you see on the web at IDEAS or the RePEc Author Services: this is because multiple versions of the same work are aggregated, and because self-citations do not count.


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