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.

RePEc in May 2016

June 4, 2016

In light of the recent purchase of a major open access provider by a commercial publisher, we want to emphasize that RePEc is independent and cannot be bought. More details are on our blog post. Note that there is a free host for open access papers in Economics that indexes its contents in RePEc: MPRA.

In May, we welcomed the following institutions that now maintain a RePEc archive: OSIPTEL, Technical University of Cluj Napoca, Times Research Consultant, Shiga University, Scienpress, Asociación Española de Economía Laboral, World Trade Institute, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (II). We counted 507,966 file downloads and 2,235,733 abstract views. And we reached the following milestones:

200,000,000 cumulative abstracts views on reporting RePEc services
90,000,000 cumulative downloads from reporting RePEc services
2,000,000 cumulative abstract views on Socionet
30,000 books
4,000 Twitter followers for NEP reports
3,000 books with references
300 authors in the directory of economists on Twitter

RePEc is independent and cannot be bought

May 17, 2016

In light of today’s announcement that Elsevier has bought SSRN, we take the opportunity to clarify whether this could happen to RePEc. The short answer is: no, this is impossible. The long answer is below.

The objective of RePEc is not not maximize profit or monetary value. It is to maximize global welfare, to use terminology from economics, by enhancing the dissemination of economic research for the publishers, the authors and the readers. The democratization of dissemination is a crucial part of our mission. Hence, RePEc was designed to run at extremely low cost, hence making it possible to make all services available for free. RePEc uses volunteer work and sponsorship for hardware, hosting and bandwidth. Volunteers and sponsors are willing to participate because of this mission. This means in particular that RePEc has no revenue. Thus it is unlikely a takeover target.

Furthermore, RePEc is actually just a set of principles of how to organize metadata about publications in economics. The participating publishers simply adhere to those principles to get their metadata included in RePEc. Anybody can come and use this data to create a service that does something with the RePEc data. There is nothing that could be bought, as all the data is actually put in the public domain. One could create a RePEc service that generates revenue. This would be against the principle of RePEc, and nobody can prevent somebody else to create a free RePEc service that does the same. Thus it is unlikely to happen. And in any case, this would still not mean a takeover of RePEc.

We care about our community of users and are here to serve them. RePEc is there to stay, and stay independent and free.

RePEc in April 2016

May 5, 2016

A new feature has been added this month. We now have a sandbox where users can customize the aggregate ranking of serials, like it has already been possible for authors and institutions. We welcomed a few new institutions that contribute their publications to RePEc: Universidad del Pacífico, Kirklareli Üniversitesi, Ministerio Italiano dello Sviluppo Economico, Korea Development Institute, Institute for New Economic Thinking. We counted 526,639 file downloads and 2,569,501 abstract views on EconPapers, IDEAS, NEP and Socionet, the RePEc services that share such statistics. And finally, we reached the following milestones:

360,000,000 cumulated abstract views
6,000,000 cumulated software component abstract views
1,250,000 articles
1,200,000 articles with download
800,000 cited items
800,000 articles with abstracts
300,000 cited working papers
300,000 new working papers disseminated through NEP
60,000 people registered with the RePEc Author Service
10,000 items mentioned in a blog post indexed at EconAcademics

RePEc in March 2016

April 3, 2016

We have now three new rankings: one for public policy institutions, and two for institutions that count the number of top 5% authors, for publications in all years, or in the last 10 years. We also welcome the following new archives: Neofit Rilski Southwestern University, Association for Research, Innovation and Social Science, Notitia, National University of Civil Protection of Ukraine, Research Academy of Social Sciences, Istanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi, Canadian Center of Science and Education. For the RePEc services that report this, we counted 545,080 file downloads and 2,058,294 abstract views last month. Finally, we reached the following milestones:

700,000 items with references
2,400 journals

Correcting a few myths about RePEc

March 16, 2016

RePEc has been put to many uses on the Internet, so it is natural that people are sometimes confused about what it does or really is. With this post, we correct some of the myths we have seen or heard about RePEc.

RePEc is a spider

No. A web spider visits every website and analyses what it finds there. This is what the large search engines like Google, Yahoo, Baidu and Bing do. RePEc only visits pre-specified locations on the Internet that participating providers have announced to RePEc. There, they have made available files that describe their publications, following instructions. This means that it is not sufficient to put a pdf file on a web page to have it appear in RePEc. It needs to be indexed by a publisher (which may be a university department, a research center, a policy institution or a commercial publisher, for example). If that is not possible, one may upload the pdf at the Munich Personal RePEc Archive (MPRA).

RePEc is biased against X and Y

RePEc welcomes all content, as long as it is related to economics and finance. If some content is not appearing, it is because the responsible publisher has not made the small effort to participate. If some field is underrepresented, it is not coming from a decision that RePEc would have taken. Quite to the contrary, we have been reaching out to non-mainstream fields of economics as they can get much broader exposure through RePEc, a fact we have even documented.

RePEc privileges the big players

Anybody can be on RePEc. Any institution that publishes economic research can have its output listed on RePEc, whether big or small. In fact, democratization of dissemination of research, both for publishers and readers, is at the heart of RePEc’s mission. It is true that almost all the big players participate in RePEc by contributing their material, and many small ones do, too. Cost should not be a detriment to participation, as everything is free on RePEc, both for contributing to it and for using it.

RePEc is all about rankings

RePEc primary goal is the wide dissemination of economic research. Rankings have been a tool to get to this, but the main purpose is to index as much as possible of the economic literature and provide tools for interested parties to search, browse or be alerted about what they want to know. Rankings have proven to be an excellent means to provide the right incentives for this. And, no, RePEc does not stand for “Reputation Economics” but rather “Research Papers in Economics.”

Why can’t RePEc staff do X?

Because there is no staff! RePEc has no income, and must thus rely entirely on volunteer work. RePEc is thus pretty much based on self-help: authors maintain their profiles themselves and publishers do the legwork to index their output. If you have a suggestion, we of course welcome it, even more if you can implement it yourself. Or look for volunteer opportunities.

The St. Louis Fed owns RePEc

No! RePEc is basically in the public domain. Anybody can use the data collected by RePEc to start a service. Examples are EconPapers, IDEAS, and NEP. More can be found on the RePEc website. The St. Louis Fed hosts several of those services, such as IDEAS and the RePEc Author Service, meaning it provides the server and the access to the Internet for them, but it does not mean it is owning or controlling them.

RePEc in February 2016

March 3, 2016

February is short, yet we got plenty of new archives joining RePEc: University of Krakow, Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno, Fatih Üniversitesi, Universidad de Oviedo, ScientificEducation.org, FLACSO, University of South Africa, University of Tuzla, Asian Growth Research Institute, Libera Università Maria Ss. Assunta (LUMSA), Chamber of Financial Auditors of Romania. We counted Also, we now have an API for CitEc, our citation analysis project.

Finally, here are some milestones we have reached:
5,000,000 cumulative downloads through NEP
3,000 Twitter followers for NEP reports.