Friday, March 21, 2008

Another good free good: RePEc

To conclude this week's tour of free goods and how they can be good even though they are free, let us look at our own profession. RePEc is a free bibliographic database that is free for all participants: authors, publishers, readers. Interestingly, it does not even rely on a grant, as its budget indicates.

Somehow, RePEc manages to find the resources from various sponsors providing hardware, hosting and bandwidth, as well as numerous volunteers. Incentives seem to be aligned for everyone to want to provide help for RePEc. Obviously, publishers want to make sure their material is listed, thus they provide records for free. Various volunteers seem to participate either out of pride of doing something good for the community, or to satisfy some (public) service requirement their job may have. And end-users are just happy to find a free service that is better than the pay services out there (Econlit and SSRN come to mind).

For non-economists, there is always Google Scholar, but for Economists, RePEc is unrivaled.


BreadBox said...

In another profession, check out the Electronic Journal of Combinatorics
at The founders of the journal took a look at the economics of running an academic journal, and realized that most academics did most of the work without compensation anyway, and that hence it was possible to put it up for free.
Oh, and check out their copyright form: authors retain most of their rights, but give the journal rights to copy in most formats, as opposed to the traditional model in which authors had to sign away all of their rights to their articles.


Economic Logician said...

Breadbox, the latest RePEc blog post mentions that there are over 3000 open access journals.