3 million items indexed in RePEc

December 12, 2019

A few day ago, RePEc reached a major milestone by indexing over 3 million research items: journal articles, working papers (pre-prints), books, book chapters, and software components. The graph below, taken from the LogEc website and not yet featuring the December 2019 numbers, shows the evolution of the RePEc index since its start in 1997 (click on it to view a larger image).

This graph shows that RePEc content continues to grow relentlessly. With all major publishers participating in RePEc by now, the growth now comes much less from new archives but rather from the continuous growth within the over 2000 participating RePEc archives featuring over 5000 working paper series, 3500 journals, and more. As economists would say, we have shifted from the extensive margin to the intensive margin, which can explain a slight decrease in the growth rate over the last few years.

The first statistics at the end of January 1998 indicate an index with 51,984 entries. The first million was reached in January 2011, the second in December 2017, and the third now in December 2019. Only two years for the last million!

If your publishers or your local academic or policy institution still does not participate in RePEc, it can join by following these instructions, or you can upload your works as an individual contributor at MPRA.


How RePEc helps with Open Access in Economics

October 24, 2019

From 21 to 27 October 2019, the Open Access Week is raising awareness about free access to scholarly research. This year’s theme is “Open for Whom? Equity in Open Knowledge,” which fits nicely in the mission of RePEc. Indeed, the goal of RePEc is to enhance the dissemination of research in the field of economics, in particular through the democratization of access to economic research both for the authors and the readers. The core aspect of RePEc is an open bibliography that allows various “RePEc services” to leverage the metadata about publication in various ways, such as email lists, search engines, organized listings, and more. For an overview of some of the services, see the RePEc home page.

RePEc facilitates open access is several ways. First, all publishers are on equal footing in terms of getting their publication material indexed in RePEc. It is upon them to follow the instructions and maintain their holdings. Second, the metadata makes the distinction between gated and free access, which some RePEc services exploit in the display of the research. For example, on EconPapers, information about download restrictions is listed next to the download link. In the absence of such language, it is assumed that the article is openly accessible (click on images to see them better):

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Note in the first case a prompt to search for other (open) versions, more on this later. On IDEAS, similar language is present in case of gated access:

In addition, the listing of articles on IDEAS for a journal also displays an icon about the download status. In this case, within the same issue of a journal, the first article is open, the second gated, and the third not available online.

Open access penetration in economics journals is comparatively low, though. Indeed, there is likely less need for open access due to a large number of pre-prints, called working papers or discussion papers in economics. In fact, RePEc and it predecessor projects were launched precisely to disseminate working papers, and over 900,000 of them are currently indexed. Working papers are typically in open access, with few exceptions, and it is then not surprising that when both working paper and article versions are available, the working paper is downloaded many more times.

Matching different versions of the same work is a difficult undertaking, especially as many different works have the same title. We leverage the fact that about half the indexed works are written by someone registered in the RePEc Author Service. Then if the same author has several works with a very similar title, we deem them to be different versions of the same research. And if the title changed, authors can add a link using this form.

This information in then leveraged on RePEc services. For example, on EconPapers, the working paper versions are listed right under the download link of the article (and vice-versa).

On IDEAS, there are multiple prompts about the availability of different versions. On the article listing of the journal, a green “WP” appears when a working paper version is available. Then, on the abstract page of the article, the pill for download tab mentions it again. And, finally, the working paper versions are listed right under the download link (and the article version on the working paper download link).

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Working papers are pretty much where the frontier of research is in economics. Journal articles are in this respect a historical record of where the frontier was a few years prior, given the publication delays. This is why the email alerting service of RePEc, NEP, notifies about new working papers, but not about articles. Universities and policy institutions are welcome to index their working papers in RePEc, it is free and follows the same instructions as for journals. And if an author does not have access to a local RePEc-indexed working papers series, they can upload their works at MPRA.


100 countries contribute through RePEc archives

July 1, 2019

The mission of RePEc is to enhance the dissemination of research in Economics. An essential part of this is the democratization of access to research, both for the readers to find research and for researchers to make their works accessible. This means that no matter where you work, you should have the same access to research. In that respect, we believe RePEc has made great strides. For example, our logs indicate that we have visitors to our sites from every country (including Antarctica and North Korea).

To get material added to RePEc, an institution typically opens a so-called local RePEc archive that contains information about its publications. We are proud to announce that with the recent addition of Armenia and the Central African Republic we now have such RePEc archives in over 100 countries. As some of those over 2000 archives aggregate material from several institutions, the count is even higher for the indexed works.

Here is the listing of the 101 countries to date that have opened at least one RePEc archive. Here is the listing of the current archives. And finally, here are the instructions for opening a local RePEc archive.


5000 working paper series on RePEc: working papers are still central to economics

May 31, 2019

RePEc now indexes now over 5000 working papers series, and we take this opportunity to highlight how these open-access pre-prints are central to RePEc and economics research in general. Indeed, the peer-review process in economics is particularly excruciating, as it is quite common for the process to take several years from submission to publication. Multiply this if a manuscript needs to be submitted to several journals (the best journals have acceptance rates below 10%), and you quickly understand that the published research often disseminates research that is several years old.

A reaction to these delays has been the introduction of working papers. Initially disseminated on paper among friends and colleagues, they quickly became the go-to medium if you wanted to know where the frontier of research was. Several institutions then institutionalized the practice by creating official working paper series one could subscribe to, in some cases against a fee to cover printing and shipping costs. Working papers, sometimes also called discussion papers, are considered preliminary work that is not definitive and disseminated for discussion and awareness. Yet, they are sometimes refereed within the issuing institutions, as in some ways their reputation rides on the papers. Also, authors often prefer their working papers to the corresponding published articles, as the latter are sometimes altered in unintended ways through the tyranny of referees as well as shortened by editors with space constraints.

RePEc was created to enhance the dissemination of research in economics, and specifically of working papers. Indeed, unlike journals, working papers were disseminated in an informal way, and one needed to be “in the know” to get them. RePEc has helped bridge that gap and make working papers available to everyone. While the dissemination of working papers is now much improved, the publication delays only got worse, hence working papers are still central to following the frontier of research. This is why RePEc disseminates new working papers through NEP and not new journal articles. And we also have noticed that if a working paper and a journal version are available in parallel, the working paper is downloaded many times more than the article (even after removing the NEP downloads).

If your working paper series is not yet available on RePEc, follow these instructions. To see which series are currently indexed, see the listings on EconPapers or IDEAS.


RePEc to take over Google Scholar

April 1, 2019

RePEc is proud to announce that it will soon take over the management of Google Scholar. Indeed, Google is dropping Google Scholar from its portfolio of web services following its yearly Spring cleaning exercise. While Google Scholar is using relatively few resources, it is not bringing any revenue and there is no expectation that it ever will. This situation is not much different from RePEc, which has no revenue either and has learned to work efficiently with volunteer resources and some sponsored hardware. For a company that is accountable to shareholders, Google and its parent Alphabet find it more and more difficult to justify giving away resources. However, this is at the core of the mission of RePEc, bringing free bibliographic resources to the academic community.

While RePEc has a lot of experience, after all it is older than Google, the take over is not without challenges. Indeed, RePEc has concentrated on Economics while Google Scholar expanded into all sciences. Thus the amount of data is much larger. Initially, services will continue to run on Google hardware before eventually moving to be independent from their birth parent. As usual, RePEc will rely on volunteers and is now appealing for them to come forward. Talent is needed in system administration, programming, UX, and brain storming. Experience in the academic publishing industry or academia a plus, especially in marine biology. Motivated candidates are asked to make themselves known by email.


What RePEc offers to Twitter users

January 31, 2019

Twitter is a social media forum that facilitates discussions on all sorts of topics, including economics. Within this large universe, it may be difficult for economists to find who to follow and who to converse with. Indeed, some very interesting conversation do take place, and contrarily to popular opinion, Twitter can be a very civil and professional environment.

To help with this, RePEc has taken various initiatives:


  1. All NEP reports, which disseminate new working papers in about 100 fields of economics, are available through email, RSS and Twitter. Visit the NEP homepage for a listing, or if you just want the Twitter accounts, see a compilation here.
  2. RePEc provides directories of economists on Twitter. These directories are assembled by country and by field (following the NEP model). In addition, there is a directory of female economists, and several for different types of institutions (like central banks or liberal arts colleges). The big directory is available here, to see the others click on the “more listings” tab. Another tab explains how to get listed.
  3. All members of the above directories with public Twitter accounts are also automatically members of the corresponding Twitter lists. This allows to easily follow the activity of the economists in a particular country or field. The Twitter lists are linked above each of the directories.
  4. IDEAS allows easily quoting on Twitter. If you click on the Twitter icon on any abstract page, this creates a Twitter post with the title of the paper and an image containing its abstract. When discussing research on Twitter, it is generally a good idea to link to a RePEc page instead of directly to the publisher. In case the reader cannot access this document, RePEc may offer alternatives. See this RePEc Blog post for more details.
  5. Finally, RePEc has a few Twitter accounts of its own, RePEc_org and repecCitEc.


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.