Volunteering with RePEc

December 1, 2021

RePEc’s mission is to democratize the dissemination of research in economics. This means that everyone should be able to identify research of interest and find ways to access it. This also means that every economist should have ways to make access to their research available. RePEc is working towards this mission with the help of an army of volunteers. The idea is that the economics community is better served by itself than by outsiders. Volunteers can be very involved, such as running websites, or less, such as contributions data as much as they can.

RePEc can always use more volunteers. The main benefit is the satisfaction of contributing to a public good. Also, for many of those who have a service component to their job (in addition to, say, teaching and research), helping RePEc can be more productive than sitting on some committee…

What opportunities are there? RePEc offer a variety of services and web sites (detailed here) that can use help. Usually, some programming knowledge is required. Ideas are also much welcome. A team of core volunteers is welcoming any help. It is best to contact the maintainer of the relevant service to see if one’s profile is suitable.

Another major area of work is being editor for a NEP report, if you see a vacancy or feel your field is not covered yet, contact the general editor to propose your services. Note that being NEP editor provides the added benefit of name recognition among the peers in your field.

Most RePEc volunteers provide data in one way or another. An important one is maintaining a so-called RePEc archive that hosts the data about publications. This can be for a journal, a working paper series, or a collection of series. There are over 2000 RePEc archives at this time. Instructions to open a new RePEc are here.

Other ways to contribute data are: adding references for paper where the reference extraction failed; correcting broken links in EDIRC, the directory of economic institutions; adding information about alumni and their advisors in the RePEc Genealogy; curating lists of the most important papers in a specific area and sub-areas in the RePEc Biblio; contributing to the Economics Virtual Seminar Calendar; maintaining the profiles of deceased economists. Or simply by providing suggestions for improvements, new features or new services.

RePEc is built by the community for the community. Be part of it.


RePEc in October 2021

November 8, 2021

RePEc reached plenty of important milestones last month, detailed below. We also welcomed two new archives, Nazarbayev University and Malaysian Journal of Economic Studies, and counted 529,131 file downloads and 2,768,713 abstract views. And now the promised milestones:

3,000,000 items with abstracts
1,000,000 cited articles
10,000 indexed series
750 RePEc-wide H-Index


How RePEc counts views and downloads

November 6, 2021

One benefit for participants in RePEc, be it publishers or authors, is that they get some statistics on the popularity of their works. Beyond citation counts, RePEc also provides download counts and what we call abstract views, that is the number of times web pages paper abstracts have been viewed on participating RePEc services. This post explains how these last two statistics are computed.

LogEc is the site that holds these statistics. Not all sites using RePEc data report the necessary data, but some of the most popular do: EconPapers, IDEAS, NEP, and Socionet. Statistics are based on web servers logs, but those contain a lot of unnecessary data: traffic from various robots that populate search engines, scripts that scrape the sites, other automated processes, and various abuses. The idea is to only count traffic from humans interested in the indexed papers. This means some trimming needs to be done.

We are going to take the example of IDEAS, the most popular of the reporting sites. In October 2021, IDEAS got 43,643,586 page views. Of those, 30,336,150 pertained to abstract pages and 565,241 were full-text downloads. A first pass removes obvious robots (mostly self-declared robots from search engines) as well as multiple views or downloads from the same user. We are down to 20,573,559 abstract views and 375,028 downloads. The next pass does further trimming, mostly of more accesses by various scripts. We have now 2,123,054 abstract views and 339,384 downloads. We are, however, not done yet. A number of red flags have been identified, that is, problematic cases that need to be checked by hand back in the server logs. After vetting those, we have the final numbers of 1,986,493 abstract views and 339,039 downloads. In other words, we counted only 6.5% respectively 60% of the raw traffic. In some months, the proportion is even lower, for example, when IDEAS has been subjected to denial of service attacks.


RePEc in September 2021

October 5, 2021

Only two new RePEc archives last month: Eastern State Planning Center and Bicol University. We counted 467,138 file downloads and 2,530,770 abstract views. We reached some important milestones:

2,500,000 indexed articles
1,500,000 cited items
1,000,000 individual paper announcements through NEP
12,500 blog posts indexed on EconAcademics


How RePEc deals with author data

October 4, 2021

RePEc is all about the open dissemination of information. Most information is about publications, and as this originates with the publishers, RePEc simply relays what they provide. There is therefore not much to say about data ownership or copyright.

Things are a little different for authors. When they create a profile in the RePEc Author Service, they do so with the understanding that this profile will be public and visible on the various RePEc services. Still, there is always a private component to this data, and here is how RePEc deals with it.

Data use: Within RePEc, author data is used to publish authors profiles on CitEc, EconPapers and IDEAS. Also, the co-authorship network is analyzed on CollEc. Finally, author data is used on the RePEc Genealogy and for author and institution rankings.

Passwords: The passwords used for RePEc accounts are never kept in clear text. As should be practice with any password management, they are encrypted with salt. This prevents the reverse-engineering of an encrypted password. This means that passwords are not sent through email in clear, passwords reset by requesting a link that is sent to the registered address. If that address, is not available anymore, request a change from the administrator, who can change addresses but not passwords.

Email address: The registered author can choose not to make the email address public. It can, however, be useful to have a visible email address, so that other economists can find a way to contact the author. RePEc services try to make the public email addresses difficult to harvest by robots. RePEc does not provide email lists for free or money.

Bad email address: If emails from RePEc bounce hard (not a temporary problem or a vacation bounce, but may include when the email provider blocks RePEc emails), RePEc makes an effort to rectify the address. Then, it asks registered co-authors, students and advisors for new coordinates. A notice it also put on the public profiles. To spare the administrator these steps, it is always appreciated that authors preemptively change their address when they anticipate a move. Note that profiles with bad email addresses do not count towards the rankings scores of their affiliations.

Affiliations: The registrant is responsible for maintaining their affiliations. The RePEc Author Service administrator does not add affiliations, but removes affiliations upon request of an administrator of that institution.

Notice of death: We appreciate notices about the death of a registered author. We add a mention to the profile and maintain it should any works be published and added posthumously.

Rankings: We understand that some registered authors do not want their ranking performance revealed to outsiders. For this reason, only the top ranked authors are listed on the ranking pages. Similarly, RePEc does not reveal individual rankings to administrators.

Automatic email opt-out: Registered economists receive occasional automatic emails about newly discovered works they may have authored. They can opt out of these alerts by logging into the RePEc Author Service, go into the “research” menu and then follow the “search settings” link.

Automatic profile deletion: Should a profile have no works listed and have an invalid email address, it will automatically be deleted, as it does not appear to serve any purpose. Fraudulent, spam, and inappropriate accounts are also deleted at the discretion of the administrator, including accounts that are not in the name of a person.

Profile deletion requests: Registered authors can delete their profile in two ways: 1) log in to the RePEc Author Service and click on the “delete” button at the end of the menu; 2) request by email to the RePEc Author Service administrator. Note that a profile deletion means that RePEc services will not display the profile of this author (give them a few days for the deletion), but the works will remain, as they are under the authority of the publisher. A deleted account can be reinstated upon request (email to RePEc Author Service administrator).


RePEc in August 2021

September 6, 2021

What is new at RePEc? IDEAS now leverages Hypothes.is for page annotations on the site. We welcomed new participating archives: Universidade Presbiteriana Mackenzie, Association for Promoting of Women in Research and Development in Africa, Weik Press, African Economic Research Institute, INET Oxford, Hungarian Ministry of Finance, Intellectual Edge, Creative Space Association. We counted 389,390 file downloads and 3,239,797 abstract views in August 2021. Finally, we reached the following milestones:

8,000,000 downloads through NEP
7,500,000 book chapter abstract views
3,400,000 items available online
1,800,000 items in author profiles


Annotate IDEAS pages with Hypothes.is

September 2, 2021

Hypothes.is is an open-source, open-access annotation tool for the web. IDEAS is now optimized for Hypothes.is use.

With a Hypothes.is user account, you can now navigate IDEAS and highlight text and leave comments for yourself or others. The service has three modes: private (annotate just for yourself), private group (for a research team, a reading group, or a classroom), or public (anyone can see your annotations). Annotations can include tags, links, images, and even LaTeX formulas. Moderators check on comment suitability.

The Hypothes.is functionalities can be accesses though browser plug-ins (Google Chrome, others), a proxy site, or through integration in a learning management system (LMS). All use is free, more advanced features or support are available for a fee. Here is a quick-start guide.


RePEc in July 2021

August 7, 2021

Everyone seems to be on vacation in July, as we are seeing a serious drop in activity across the board. We recorded 417,185 file downloads and 2,245,986 abstract views and welcomed the following new archives: University of Manchester (III), Idea Publishers. And we reached the following milestone:

3,700,000 indexed research items
2,400,000 indexed articles


RePEc in June 2021

July 6, 2021

IDEAS has added a new feature: if an item has a DOI, an alternative link to full text has been added that uses LibKey. This allows users to leverage their library subscriptions. We also welcomed the following new RePEc archives: Nature, Université Mohammed VI Polytechnique, Transition Academia Press, Journal of Management Practices, Humanities and Social Sciences, Journal of Advanced Research in Social Sciences and Humanities, Journal of ICT, Design, Engineering and Technological Science. We counted 545,984 file downloads and 2,926,106 abstract views. And finally, we reached the following milestones:

3,600,000 indexed items


The importance of name variations in author profiles

July 4, 2021

An importance project in the RePEc landscape is the RePEc Author Service. It allows economists to create an online profile of their works, built as their “recognize” the works they have authored that have been indexed in RePEc by the respective publishers.

Of course, as there are over 3.6 millions works indexed in RePEc at the time of this writing, the authors need to be helped in sorting through this large amount of data. This is done on the basis of name variations. The name is not sufficient. Indeed, publishers have many ways to name authors and it is easier to offer suggestions for authoring claims based on author names. During the the registration process on the RePEc Author Service, authors are asked to provide a list of name variations (which they can amend later) to facilitate this. But it is important to be comprehensive.

For example, say William Smith registers. The system will make automatically the following suggestions:

  • William Smith
  • W. Smith
  • Smith, William
  • Smith, W.

If the author approves this list of name variations as is, he will be a list of suggested works, first with those having authors with names corresponding to the variations. Not all may be his, as there could be homonyms. The author will also get an email whenever a new work was added to the database with one of those names.

However, this short list of names may not be sufficient. Indeed, publishers may be recording a middle name or at least a middle initial. If this is not captured in the list of name variations, the author may miss out on potential works to add to the profile. The same applies for a suffix (Jr., Sr., III). What if the author is also known as Bill or Will, which may be recorded as well, in particular for working papers?

There may be further complications due to local naming conventions. For example the French first name Jean-Claude may be abbreviated as J.-Cl. or J.-C., and similarly in Russian (Yuri, Yu.). Hispanic names often have two last names, with the second one sometimes omitted or abbreviated (Sánchez Gómez, Sánchez G., Sánchez), while in Portuguese the first of the two is sometimes omitted. Publishers sometimes includes accents and sometimes not. For all these cases, it is important to help the RePEc Author Service by providing a complete list of variations that publishers could be using.

And then there are those cases where authors change names, particularly through marriage. Anglicizing a name, adopting a religion or gender change can also be reasons to adapt the list of name variations. If one has published in a different script (Arabic, Cyrillic). that should be reflected, too.

This may sound like a lot of work for some authors, but this allows RePEc to provide more accurate suggestions. But we have noticed that many authors have a list of name variations that is too small. For this reason, we had to expand the email alerts beyond the strict name variations, or authors would not get the notices they would be expecting.