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.

Pre-prints

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.


RePEc innovates with new initiative in Paris

April 1, 2018

RePEc has been at the forefront of the dissemination of economics research for over twenty years, and has in particular been among the first if not the first across all sciences to introduce features such as open bibliographies, open citations, author identifiers, and publication rankings. Following our mission of democratization of access to research, we are proud to announce yet another innovation that will help us bringing economic research to the public: we have received the authorization to take over two bouquinistes boxes in Paris. Bouquinistes maintain since the 16th century about 1000 boxes on the left and right banks of the Seine in central Paris where they sell antique and used books and magazines. The RePEc boxes, pictured above, are on the left bank on Quai Conti close to the Monnaie de Paris, the historical coin mint that will help to maintain the boxes.

The boxes will contain used working papers, which given the publication delays in economics may still be ahead of their versions published in refereed journals. Thus the pedestrian passing by will be better informed about research in economics than journal subscribers. Volunteers will be on hand to guide interested readers. Note that despite these boxes being located in a French-speaking country, it is not expected that the majority of the working papers will be in French. Volunteers interested in participating should enquire at the Monnaie de Paris Boutique.

For other volunteer opportunities with RePEc, see our volunteers page.


Why linking to research on RePEc sites makes sense

August 30, 2017

If you participate in online discussions about economics research, if you have an online syllabus, or if you share some literature through email, you are likely providing a link to some full text on a publisher’s site. I want to argue here that it is a better idea to link to a RePEc service (abstract pages on EconPapers and IDEAS or links from NEP reports). The reasons are the following:


  1. Link to full texts go stale. RePEc URLs are permanent and contain updated links to full texts.
  2. If the full text link is gated behind a paywall, the RePEc link can still provide context and often a link to a free version.
  3. Alternatively, if the full text link is going to a working paper, a RePEc page may have a link to a version published in a journal.
  4. Clicking on a RePEc link will give the author(s) credit, this cannot happen if the link goes directly to the full text.
  5. A RePEc abstract page also provides related research (cites, references) and links to author profiles. The interested reader can thus explore for more.

EconPapers and IDEAS each have easy tools if you want to share a link through social media or email. Use them!


RePEc launches Top 5 Journal in Economics

April 1, 2017

Many academic departments in economics require from their junior faculty to publish in top 5 journals in order to gain tenure or get promotions. The top departments ask for several such articles, lower ranked ones may ask for only one. However, the space available in those journals is very limited, a couple hundred articles a year. Given that many already tenured faculty publish in those journals, the space for the newcomers is very scarce and few junior professors can count on top 5 journals for their tenure hopes.

This problem has become worse, as more and more departments strive for such impossible requirements, in part because they are forced to keep up with requirements in the other sciences of their university, where articles are much shorter and journals publish more frequently, thus making it easier to get top publications. Without intervention, economics may get into the situation of choking itself by making it impossible for most department to grant tenure to faculty. In light of this upcoming catastrophe, RePEc is happy to come to the rescue with the launch of a new journal that will be accepting submissions from junior faculty aspiring for tenure, the

Top 5 Journal in Economics

will start today with volume 104 and a special issue on the Economics of Fisheries. For submissions and more information about the journal, click here.


How RePEc is making research available to everyone

February 23, 2017

Much of research in economics is funded directly or indirectly by public funds, so it stands to reason that the public should be able to access it. The public being other economists, political or economic decision makers, and the public at large. Unfortunately, there are roadblocks in considering or accessing this research. One recent impediment is a new tendency by decision makers to look less at advice from experts and the literature they have contributed to. A longer standing one is that a significant amount of research is gated behind paywalls. In this post, we want to illustrate how RePEc can help overcome these issues by giving a chance to everyone to read up on the economic literature

Accessing the literature

In many cases, freely accessible pre-prints are available as an alternative to the pay-walled articles. These working papers may not be the latest version, but they already give a very good idea of the final, published version. And many are in fact more complete than the journal articles, which have often been cut for space constraints. We have also noticed that the more an article is cites, the more likely it is available as a working paper.

On RePEc sites, we provide links between articles and their working paper versions (as long as at least one author is registered, has claimed all versions as theirs, and the titles are sufficiently similar. Misses can be rectified with this form). Users have clearly recognized this, as working papers are downloaded seven times more frequently, even after controlling for the notification services below.

Staying current

Working papers have another advantage: they are available much earlier than their published articles. This is why RePEc has emphasized working papers in its notification services. Most notably, NEP allows users to subscribe to alerts about new working papers in almost 100 fields thorough email, RSS feeds or Twitter. This is, as everything on RePEc, free and accessible to everyone. Other useful tools, which also include other types of publications, are MyIDEAS and the ‘date modified’ option at EconPapers search.

Finding the right literature

With over two million works indexed, the amount of material available in RePEc may be overwhelming, especially to non-specialists. Both EconPapers and IDEAS try to make it easier by making the RePEc bibliographic database accessible in different ways: search, browsing, keywords, JEL classification, links to references, citations and author profiles. We are working on tutorials that should make it easier for the unexperienced user to unleash the full potential of the sites.

In addition, there is the RePEc Biblio, in which editors curate lists of the most relevant papers in their field. At the time of this writing, 115 topics are covered, and the site is expanding. This site should become helpful to get introduced in a topic and quickly find answers, even for non-specialists. As the site is organized as a tree with increasingly narrow topics, concrete answers for interested users will eventually be available.

You can help, too!

You can help by making more research easily accessible. There are two main ways: first, by making the working papers from your institution available on RePEc, following these instructions. Second, if the first option is not working out, upload your working papers at MPRA.

You can also contribute to the RePEc Biblio by taking care of topics in your area of expertise, either by assembling lists of relevant literature or by asking others to do so for sub-topics.


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

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

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

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

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.


Quality control committee: looking for volunteer

June 13, 2016

The RePEc community is looking for a volunteer to head a committee on quality control for journals admitted to be indexed in RePEc. Here is some background.

There is a growing number of journal-like outlets that pretend to be normal open access journals. But in reality, all they do is take authors’ money, and put the content up on a web site. They do no quality  control. They have no editorial board that does any work. In fact, many times people on the board do not even know that they are on it.

Traditionally, RePEc has not done any quality control prior to listing additional journals. We believe that quality can best be assessed by users of the RePEc dataset. However, we have been criticized for helping these deceitful outlets gain a mantle of respectability through their RePEc listing. Therefore we take this step forward. We expect quality control also to be an issue with toll-gated journals.

The volunteer we are looking for will determine the exact name of the committee and its remit. (S)he would recruit a few committee members. (S)he would run the mailing list and maintain some web pages for the committee. RePEc can provide both. Anybody who is interested in this work should contact repec@repec.org.

We expect that this will not be a lot of work. We are sure that this as a duty that any academic can itemize as a professional service on their CV.