Magazine article Online

IDEAS, LogEc, EconLit

Magazine article Online

IDEAS, LogEc, EconLit

Article excerpt

All three reviews in this issue focus on economic literature databases. Economics has been the turf of the EconLit database for decades. In the past few years, however, there have been many projects to make at least the abstracts of substantial economic research papers freely available through the Web. One of the most successful of the international collaborative efforts is the RePEc (Research Papers in Economics) archive, which is being implemented with different features by talented economists and programmers in many countries as varied as Sweden, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.

My first pick is IDEAS, one of the many excellent implementations of the RePEc collection of free abstracts for more than 200,000 journal articles, working papers, books, book chapters, and software. Over half of the abstracts have links to the full-text digital version. The other pick is a spectacularly well-implemented bibliometric service that delivers very informative statistics about the papers, journals, series, and authors in RePEc. The pan is the American Economic Association's EconLit database, which is widely licensed by many college libraries and research centers, but is becoming increasingly less and less state of the art.

the picks


It was not easy to choose my pick of the several excellent RePEc implementations. Considering all the features, IDEAS, by the Department of Economics at Connecticut University [], is my favorite. It is a labor of love by associate professor Christian Zimmermann, who is also the brain behind the EDIRC (Economics Departments, Institutes and Research Centers in the World) database, which contains information on about 7,770 institutions, making it a potential pick in and by itself.

Instead of trying to describe the richness of this version of RePEc, let me reproduce one of the overview statistics of IDEAS. This is the kind of information I begged for in a guest editorial on database nutrition labeling over a decade ago ("A Proposal for Database 'Nutrition and Ingredient' Labeling," DATABASE, February 1993, pp. 7-9).

The size of the database is impressive, and so is the fact that more than half of its records have abstracts. Very importantly, 56 percent of the records link to the full-text documents (although only a fraction of them are open access). Still, most users at research libraries are likely to have a subscription to the digital archives of economics journals. Since IDEAS' links are to the article level, access is very efficient.

The records are displayed in a well-structured, easy-to-scan manner, with jumps to the different sections of the record, such as the cited references, which are available for 14 percent of the records. Even more records take you to the papers that cite the item being displayed. In cases where the author is registered in EDIRC, there is a link to the author record that in turn shows which of his or her articles are open access. And all this is free, courtesy of the publishers, the participating research institutes, and the individual researchers.

The search software is ht://Dig, which I don't dig, because it does not offer exact phrase searching, field-specific searching, limiting to year range, and other useful options. This database deserves a better open access software, such as Swish-e. Luckily, Zimmermann brings the most out of ht://Dig. IDEAS has some very useful statistics, such as the top 5 percent of authors, institutions, countries, and states, ranked by the number of works in RePEc, the number of times their abstracts were viewed, papers were downloaded, and cited in other papers that are covered by RePEc and could be analyzed. It complements very nicely another free RePEc service that deserves kudos (Citations in Economics) as well as my other pick, LogEc.


The popularity of the RePEc archive and its services is superbly illustrated by the LogEc service [http://logec. …

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