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!


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.

Who is the typical RePEc user?

January 17, 2017

This answer is not that easy to answer, as using RePEc services typically does not require any registration. Still, some services use Google Analytics, which provides some elementary statistics about users, but nothing about demographics. Below are some of what we can learn by looking at the Google Analytics for IDEAS for 2016. This may or may not apply to other RePEc services.

First, one can learn a few things from the browser that is used. 53% of users have it set to use US-English, 8% British English, 4% each for Spanish and Chinese, and 3% each for French and German. This language variable, however, does not correlate perfectly with the location. Indeed, only 18% of users are in the United States, the next most frequent countries being the United Kingdom (7%), India (7%), Germany (4%), Italy, France, Canada, China (all 3%), and then with 2% Australia, the Philippines, Kenya, Colombia, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia. This wide distribution is actually quite encouraging, as the goal of RePEc is to democratize the access to research, and getting “non-traditional” countries to adopt RePEc services this well is a good sign. In particular, Africa represents 9% of the traffic, South Asia 10%, Southeast Asia 7% and South America 6%. And yes, there is traffic from North Korea.

What about browsers? Chrome is the clear winner, at 55%. Next come Firefox (14%), Safari (13%), Internet Explorer (8%), Opera Mini (3%) and Edge (2%). In terms of operating systems, Windows is first at 66% (of which 53% is Windows 7, 27% Windows 10, and 13% on Windows 8.1), then 14% on Macintosh, 10% Android, 6% iOS, and 1% Linux. It is clear from this that desktop use is still predominant (81%), while 16% use a mobile phone and only 3% a tablet.

Where is traffic originating? Most of it comes from search engines (76%), while 15% of traffic is referred from another website. 8% of traffic is direct, meaning from bookmarks or by typing the URL in the browser. 1% is coming from social media.

Exploring the pre-publication communication for RePEc users

September 13, 2016

Two months ago, we announced a new free RePEc service that allows RePEc users making a fragmentation/annotation of papers and linking whole papers and/or their fragments by scientific relationships. These new tools are publicly available at sociorepec.org. It can help researchers with their everyday academic work, like discovery, analysis, and writing of new papers.

Using these tools researchers create private or public micro research outputs (annotations, relationships, etc.). If it is public, SocioRePEc can initiate direct scholarly communication between the researchers who used some papers to create micro outputs and the authors of the used papers. Such direct communication takes place while researchers are collecting findings, manipulating and organizing the findings, e.g. as their manuscripts. Thus, researchers have an opportunity to come to scholarly communication before the manuscripts become traditional publications. We call this the pre-publication communication.

Recently we presented our vision of the possible impact of pre-publication communication in a position paper “End of Publication? Open access and a new scholarly communication technology“.

We are looking for partners (organizations or individuals) to explore the pre-publication communication.

We want to find out how useful pre-publication communication is. As the first step, we propose some experiments with SocioRePEc facilities:

1. Competitive selection. The basic pre-publication communication provided by SocioRePEc is public. That means the system allows experiments with creating some elements of competition. Members of the research community can trace the “author”<–>”user” pre-publication communication. Then they compete with the author by offering the user better research results or more efficient solution to her/his research problem.

2. Identification of the “neighbours”. We can think of researchers using research outputs of other researchers as “neighbours” in the global scientific labor division system. Pre-publication communication can help researchers to find out who their neighbours are. This can give the neighbours better collective intelligence. They can interactively adjust and adapt their “supply” and “demand” to get better mutual impact from their direct research cooperation.

3. Exploring challenges. Do researchers appreciate that pre-publication communication is an instrument for identifying problems in and reducing potential issues of the credibility of their work? To shed some light on this question we need some additional qualitative study on how a research culture (formal and informal norms, rules, and motivation) can be developed that can lead researchers to adopt pre-publication scholarly communication.

4. Publication as aggregation. It is also important to find out what could motivate scholars to adopt the idea that the future of research publication is aggregation. Neylon wrote about this: “If we think of publication as the act of bringing a set of things together and providing them with a coherent identity then that publication can be many things with many possible uses” [1]. Possible questions for the experiments are: What kind of forms in general can research outputs usage have in, say, economics? Will researchers agree to share micro research outputs in order to benefit from the pre-publication communication? Under what circumstances could researchers adopt the idea of “publication as aggregation”?

5. Transparency in research. What changes in research practice can initiate global pre-publication scholarly communication between authors and users of research outputs? How can this improve the transparency and credibility of their research findings? Answering these questions will imply some study of, for example, the community of RePEc users. We see them as a pro-active group of scholars open to innovations in the field of global scholarly communication technology.

We rely on grant support, sponsorship and community donations to get started.  Please consider making a donation or support us in another form (email for contacts).


[1] Neylon, C. The future of research communication is aggregation, Science in the Open Blog, published: 10 April 2010. Available online:  http://cameronneylon.net/blog/the-future-of-research-communication-is-aggregation/

Annotating papers in PDF files

June 25, 2016

The SocioRePEc.org research information system provides free added-value services for RePEc users, including a new tool to annotate RePEc papers in PDF. SocioRePEc also gives enrichment facilities for RePEc authors and some additional daily updated statistics.

Compare with other RePEc services like IDEAS, etc., SocioRePEc currently supports some new use cases:

  1. You can select interesting fragments within PDF papers and store them with your comments as your micro research outputs. You can keep them for your private use only. If you share them publicly, readers of the papers will see them as annotations to papers’ text. See more in the instructions.
    Other RePEc services can freely take the public annotation data from SocioRePEc.
    We continue further development of this tool to enable fragmentation and re-use of research outputs in PDF in new ways [1].
  2. The enrichment facilities allow you to create research relationships between the fragments of papers, annotations, etc. See instruction.We provide an initial taxonomy of the research relationships [2] and continue its development.
  3. The new statistical service gives daily updated pictures of the “production”, the “popularity” and the “usage” activities behind changes of the RePEc data. See more here.
    In particular, an author can see at the personal profile page (example) their the most popular papers for the specified period of time (example), different classes of scientific relationships with their papers (example), and some other statistics.
    Research organisations, for instance, can see at the profile page (example) their the most popular papers by collections (example) or by researchers from its staff (example), scientific relationships, and some other statistics, e.g. with total numbers of their papers by collections and by researchers, etc.We are developing this statistical service to be a “signalling system” for RePEc users [3].

By developing SocioRePEc, the SocioRePEc team proposes to the RePEc community a testbed for experiments with new forms of re-using research papers, with ability to express research relationships between papers, with new ways for scholarly communication [1,2] and with the statistical signalling system [3].

We believe this SocioRePEc approach and technology can bring a new level of transparency in research and can lead to improvements in the scientific standards of rigour and integrity.

The SocioRePEc team invites individuals and organisations to collaboration.

At the moment the project has no funding. We are looking for funding sources and/or a cooperation with other projects. If you can help, please let me know at sparinov@gmail.com.

Please consider making a donation. If you like to be a sponsor of this project, please let us know at admin@sociorepec.org.

[1] SocioRePEc CRIS with an interactive mode of the research outputs usage, (direct link to PDF)

[2] Scholarly Communication in a Semantically Enrichable Research Information System with Embedded Taxonomy of Scientific Relationshipshttp://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-24543-0_7, (direct link to PDF)

[3] Semantic Linkages in Research Information Systems as a New Data Source for Scientometric Studieshttp://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11192-013-1108-3, (direct link to PDF)


February 11, 2016

The CitEc project has launched an Application Programming Interface (API) to enable external applications to query the CitEc database and obtain citation data through a simple web interface. It allows to retrieve three different types of data for each document: plain, AMF (Academic Metadata Format) and citedby.

  1. Plain XML data about cites of a single document. This data should be processed by the API client before be presented to the user.
  2. AMF metadata for cites and references (if available) for the document. The XML response is an AMF record. More details about the AMF schema is available at: http://amf.openlib.org/doc/ebisu.html.
  3. Citedby shows the cites for the document. By default, the XML output is transformed through an XSLT style sheet to generate an human readable page.

The CitEc API is addressed mainly to:

  • Institutions providing data to RePEc (RePEc archives). The API could be used to insert in their web pages the number of citations of each document.
  • Researchers who want to use CitEc data in their bibliometric research. It provides an easy way to get basic data about documents and citations. Note that such researchers also could ask us to provide the data in the customized format they need in order to reduce even more the processing time.

Look at http://citec.repec.org/api.html for more information and examples.

Note that beyond CitEc, IDEAS provides also an API for other parts of the RePEc database.


RePEc offers now an API

September 28, 2015

RePEc is all about the dissemination of its metadata on the economics research literature, and another means of dissemination has been added to its portfolio: an API (Application Programming Interface). This allows applications to interact directly with the content of RePEc without having to go through the sometimes tedious steps involved in collecting data from a decentralized database, which RePEc is.

As we have yet to learn how much demand there is and how it will load our servers, the use of the API is restricted at this point. We want to encourage data user to first use the traditional method to gather RePEc data, as described in this document, before applying for an API user code. Note that functionalities are getting added to the API as users demand, thus not everything is possible at this point.