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    Origin and motivation of RePEc

    A scholarly communication system brings together producers and consumers of documents. For the majority of the documents, the producers do not receive a monetary reward. Their effort is compensated through a wide circulation of the document and peer approval of it. Dissemination and peer approval are the key functions of scholarly communication.

    Scholarly communication in Economics has largely been journal-based. Peer review plays a crucial role. Thorough peer review is expensive in time. According to Trivedi (1993), a paper commonly takes over three years from submission to publication in an academic journal, not counting rejections. From informal evidence, slowly rising publication delays have been curbed in the past few years as journal editors have fought hard to cut down on what have been perceived to be intolerable delays.

    Researchers at the cutting edge cannot rely solely on journals to keep abreast of the frontiers of research. Prepublication through discussion papers or conference proceedings is now commonplace. Access to this informally-disseminated research is often limited to a small number of readers. It relies on the good will of active researchers to disseminate their work. Since good will is in short supply, insider circles are common.

    This time gap between informal distribution and formal publication can only fundamentally be resolved by reforming the quality control process. The inconvenience resulting from the delay can, however, be reduced by improving the efficiency of the informal communication system. This is the initial motivation behind the RePEc project. Its traditional emphasis has been on documents that have not gone through peer review channels. Thus RePEc is essentially a scholarly dissemination system, independent of the quality review process, on the Internet.