Keeping Up with Research from Economists around the World

In an effort to disseminate economics research worldwide, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hosts IDEAS, a website where more than 1.6 million working papers, articles, books and even software components from economists around the world can be browsed and searched by anyone at no charge. Many of these can be downloaded, too.

IDEAS uses Research Papers in Economics (RePEc) data, with RePEc being one of the world's largest open bibliographies of academic material. RePEc is a collaborative effort of hundreds of volunteers in more than 80 countries whose goal is to enhance the dissemination of research in economics and related sciences.

RePEc was started to help those interested in economics keep up to date on the latest research, rather than force them to wait for such work to appear in journals, which usually have relatively long vetting and publishing processes. In many cases, the frontier of economic research advances through the publication of working papers, which is why RePEc puts a special focus on these publications. More than 3,800 working paper series submit papers to RePEc. This is not to say that articles in journals are excluded; indeed, submissions come from 2,000 journals. In addition, material comes from more than 1,700 archives (including leading publishers, such as Elsevier and Springer) in more than 80 countries.

IDEAS—one of many services that display or enhance RePEc data for public consumption—makes it easy for anyone to see the papers, articles and work from other economists that are part of the giant RePEc database. Other services specialize in certain parts of the data. For example, Economics Departments, Institutes and Research Centers (EDIRC) lists nearly 13,000 such institutions around the world. is a blog aggregator for discussion about economics research. RePEc Biblio is a hand-selected collection of relevant articles and papers on a wide variety of economics topics; the information is organized as a tree, and the topics narrow as you follow its branches. These particular services (and more) are affiliated with the St. Louis Fed's Research division.

Researchers in economics or a related field are invited to register and create their own online profiles via the RePEc Author Service, also hosted by the St. Louis Fed's Research division. Nearly 40,000 have already done so. After registering, they receive a monthly mailing, detailing the popularity of their works, their ranking and newly found citations. RePEc rankings are computed according to a variety of criteria, including such things as articles published, citation counts and number of downloads.

Lest anyone think that RePEc, IDEAS and the like are all work and no play, there's the IDEAS Fantasy League. Players log into the fantasy league using their RePEc Author Service credentials to run a virtual economics department, the goal of which is to improve its ranking relative to those of other departments in the league. The league is yet another way to learn about economists and their work.

IDEAS and other RePEc services can be reached via the IDEAS or RePEc websites.