IDEAS turns 20

September 27, 2017

IDEAS just turned 20. Launched in September 1997 on a web server sponsored by Université du Québec à Montréal and adapted from scripts written for WoPEc by José Manuel Barrueco Cruz (who is now in charge of citation analysis at CitEc), the site initially displayed 40,000 papers and articles. Now, there are sixty times more documents. A screen shot from the early days is below.

In 2002, IDEAS moved to the University of Connecticut, followed by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, where it is still hosted. Over time, the site served 3.6 billion pages, although the vast majority where requested by web spiders for the major search engines and some page skimmers (who should really use the API). Once all this robotic access is cleared, the abstract pages alone where read almost 300 million times (or an average of 120 times for each listed item) and 70 million downloads were recorded (or an average of 31 times for each document available for download).

A few dates relevant for the history of IDEAS:


  • September 1997: IDEAS opens for business at the Université du Québec à Montréal
  • June 1998: the first ranking is published, covering abstract views for items and serials
  • August 2000: the first author ranking
  • February 2001: the first institution ranking
  • October 2002: IDEAS is now at the University of Connecticut
  • June 2011: IDEAS moves to the St. Louis Fed
  • January 2013: MyIDEAS is available
  • December 2014: IDEAS becomes mobile friendly

Advertisements

RePEc in August 2017

September 5, 2017

We are finally waking up from the Summer slumber. We have high expectations for the near future while relatively little happened lately on RePEc. We got four new participating archives: Scientific Publishing Institute, Joint Research Centre (Ispra), University of Ibadan, CAF Development Bank of Latin America. We counted 408,853 file downloads and 1,468,524 abstract views. We hope to report more next month.


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 in July 2017

August 4, 2017

As usual, July is a calm month. We have to report a new web page detailing the representation of women in economics in various ways. We added only two new archives: Exeley and Step Academic. And we counted 401,303 file downloads and 1,537,997 abstract views. As for milestones, we have more to report:

1,500,000 listed journal articles
1,000,000 listed journal articles with abstracts
12,500 economists listed in the RePEc Genealogy


Why do some words look weird on RePEc sites?

July 27, 2017

When you browse through the various RePEc sites, you may come across some strange words or names, like González, su¢ cient or Möller. Why do those appear? To get to the bottom of this, one has to first understand how the RePEc sites get their content. All of it comes directly from publishers, about 2000 of them, who make all the relevant information available on their respective sites. To do so, they followed instructions and put files with a particular layout on their ftp or web sites.

These files are supposed to be simple text files, not formatted like they would be with Microsoft Word or LibreOffice. That should make them easy to handle with automated scripts. Unfortunately, this ignores the pesky issue of character encoding. Every operating system or software assumes that a particular character encoding is the standard, which is fine until a file moves from one computer to another. Early on, the files used in RePEc were assumed to be encoded as ISO-LATIN-1 or Windows-1252 by default. Back in 1997, UTF-8 (“Unicode”) was rare. Yet, there is till the option to force RePEc scripts to assume UTF-8 by adding at the start of the file a byte-order mark (“BOM”), which signals that the file has a non-standard encoding.

Now UTF-8 has become much more prevalent, and publishers sometimes put UTF-8 encoded data in files without the BOM, especially for files created by scripts. RePEc then interprets the data as ISO-LATIN-1 or Windows-1252, and the output can then look strange for any character that is outside the restricted ASCII set (simple letters and numbers). For example, any accented characters like é, ñ, ç, and ü will look odd if wrongly encoded. The same applies to ligatures like æ, ffi, and ß, non-Western alphabets, and some punctuation used in Microsoft Word.

As a RePEc publisher, how can you fix your poorly encoded UTF-8 data? There are two solutions. Either add the BOM at the start of the data, or use the new .redif extension which assumes UTF-8. But if you convert from .rdf to .redif, make sure to delete the old .rdf file(s), or your records will come up as duplicated and thus become invalid. And remember: no HTML encoding in your files.


RePEc in June 2017

July 5, 2017

There are a few novelties on RePEc this month. Three new NEP reports: NEP-BIG (Big Data), NEP-DES (Economic Design) and NEP-FLE (Financial Literacy and Education). A new ranking for institutions: Student records measured on the publications from the last 10 years. We have also a few new participating archives: University of Calgary (II), GRAPE, Centre for Economic History Research, National Association of Forensic Economics, D. A. Tsenov Academy of Economics, Tripal Publishing House, DOBA Faculty. We counted 443,596 file downloads and 1,596,970 abstract views in June 2017.

As for the milestones we reached:

40,000,000 cumulative article downloads
6,000,000 cumulative downloads through NEP
12,000 people listed in the RePEc Genealogy


RePEc Genealogy tutorial

June 28, 2017

The RePEc Genealogy is an academic family tree of economists. It provides information about where and when economists obtained their final degree, and who advised them for the final degree. At the time of this writing, over 12,000 economists are indexed in the RePEc Genealogy. The data is crowd-sourced, meaning that anybody with a RePEc account can amend records, much like Wikipedia.

Besides the curiosity factor of learning the background of economists, the assembled data is useful in several ways. One is that the data about the graduate programs is used to evaluate them. Close to 1000 are currently listed, and the research performance of their graduates is used to rank them. The data is also used by researchers for various analyses of the Economics profession.

As mentioned, the site is crowd-sourced. This tutorial shows how you can help in contributing to it (click on images for a larger view).

Logging in

Click on Make additions and changes in the side bar to get to the log-in page. This is the standard log-in procedure in RePEc and requires your RePEc Short-ID. If you do not know you Short-ID, follow this tutorial (new window).

Select a person to amend

Once logged in, you will be presented with this form:

Click on “yourself” to amend your Genealogy record. To amend someone else’s, you will need this person’s Short-ID. You likely do not know it. But if you enter parts of the name in the last field, options will be offered to you, like this:

Notice how there are several option, as there are several Richard Smith in RePEc. To ensure you have the right person, you can click on anyone’s link and it will open their IDEAS profile in a new window. Once you have the right person, enter their Short-ID in the first field and submit.

Amend a record

This is the standard form for data entry. Again, it all works with Short-IDs for people and RePEc handles for institutions. For institutions, one can either look up the handle (it always starts with RePEc:edi:) on the EDIRC directory of institutions, other enter a few letters (up to seven) relevant to the name of the institution, and a few choices will offered. Similarly, if one does not know the name of the advisor, enter the name and RePEc Short-IDs will be offered, if the person is registered. For example:

Gives you the following suggestions:

After entering the relevant handle and Short-ID, the form is completed:

Within 10 minutes the record will be created or amended on the live website. Buttons below the standard form allow you to amend further records, either by adding students that the person you just amended may have advised, or the advisor of this person, or anybody else, for examples other students who graduated from your program.