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Economics: Introduction

Selected Resources for Research in Economics

Overview of Economics Resources

This page provides a descriptive overview of major resources for economics research.  It is intending to give recommended starting points.  For more thorough lists of resources, consult the Journals, Books, Research Tools, Economic Data, Organizations, and other tabs in this guide.

Useful Links

RFE - Resources for Economists is a large collection of links hosted by the American Economic Association.  If you had only one website to bookmark (besides this page, of course), this would be the one.

Data Services - guide to data services provided by the Libraries, such as the Secure Data Facility.

Data Management - guide to handling your data efficiently and responsibly.

RyanData - blog announcing new data sources and services. Browse or subscribe to track new data developments at RUL.

Rutgers University Libraries Toolbar - for your browser lets you quickly search Google Scholar, Libraries' databases, and e-journals.

RefWorks or Zotero - software to help you manage your citations and create bibliographies automatically.  RefWorks is a web-based Rutgers subscription service.  Zotero is free, open-source software, and functions as a browser plug-in.  Each have different advantages and disadvantages.  Also, Rutgers now has a site license to EndNote.

Introduction

Conducting research in economics requires familiarity with major publications, sources of data, and competence in using research tools to locate further information.  The boxes below discuss Data, Working Papers, Journals, and Books in that order.  This may be viewed as mirroring a somewhat abstract and tidy research cycle of gathering data, writing up initial results, publishing in a journal, and then summing up a larger field of research in a book.  Of course, the initial exploration of a topic may proceed in the reverse order, as the study of books proceeds to more specialized articles and papers, and finally to the related data. The order is in no way prescriptive.

Data

Finding appropriate data for your research is a complex and often challenging topic that I am happy to consult with you about.  The best sources for your research may be very different from those listed here.  However, everyone should be familiar with major data providers, which serve as a starting point for further data exploration.

ICPSR is the largest archive of social science data in the world, and includes everything from the largest government microdata to surveys conducted on small populations by individual researchers.  In Europe, there is an entire network of national data archives. Other data repositories focus on specific topics, such as the Roper Center's emphasis on polling.

International and government agencies collect the largest data sets in their domains. Top international sources include the World Bank, International Financial Statistics (IMF eLibrary), UNData, and OECDStat. The most important government data sources in the US are the Census, the Federal Reserve, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Data.gov. Major government sources for other countries can be located through OFFSTATS.  RUL also subscribes to China Data Online.

Global Financial Data provides very comprehensive information on interest rates, stock market returns, and a variety of other financial indicators for countries around the world. Sources of more detailed financial information such as COMPUSTAT (corporate financials), CRSP (stock prices), Datastream (many economic and financial series) are also available.  Please consult with me if you are interested in these.

Data-Planet lets you search a large collection of statistics from state, federal, international, and private sources and download extracts and graphs. There is also a quick lookup interface for fast factsSocial Explorer and PolicyMap are two resources that provide easy access to demographic data in map and downloadable form for the US.

We also typically have a limited budget for purchase of data, as long as the licensing permits its reuse by the Libraries.

Please browse the more extensive links on the Economic Data page.

Finally, please consult with me if you are not finding what you need. 

Working Papers

Although journal articles represent the authorized and accepted form of research in economics, publication often lags the original papers by up to two years.  Initial results are reported in working papers.  You can keep up with the frontier of research by monitoring working paper sites.

SSRN, the Social Science Reseach Network, is one of the most popular current awareness services for new papers.

IDEAS is one of the largest open archives of working papers.

NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research) is a very prestigious working paper series, which has high recognition and impact.

See additional links on the Working Papers page.

Journals

If you want to know what economists have to say, the best place to find out is EconLit. EconLit is the primary index to scholarly literature in economics, produced by the American Economic Association.  You can search by author, journal name, subject using JEL classification, keywords, institutional affiliation, geography, and much more.  Once you have found articles of interest, click on the "Get It @ R" button to locate electronic copies of the article. 

Through the same intereface, you can also search Business Source Premier, covering the business literature, including scholarly journals in finance, management, etc. 

For review articles that summarize the state of research in a topic, you can search for "Review Article" in EconLit. Also, the Journal of Economic Literature and the Journal of Economic Perspectives are excellent starting points for readable overviews of economic research.

If the "Get It @ R" button does not work, you can try the Electronic Journals A-Z list or search for individual journal titles (do not use the article title) in the Library Catalog. Almost all of our current subscriptions to economics journals are electronic, but the further back in time an article is, the less likely it is to be available electronically.

If you cannot find an electronic copy, and the Libraries have a print copy of the journal, you can use the "Article Delivery" button in the Library Catalog to request the article.  We will send you a scanned PDF of the item.

If the journal is not held at Rutgers, use the Interlibrary Loan form to request the article.  We will find a library that has it, and send you the scanned PDF.

There are many other indexes that provide article coverage.  See the other indexes on the Journals page for a wide range of disciplinary coverage.

Google Scholar can be useful if you understand its limitations (ranking by popularity, undefined universe of coverage). 

One unique index is Web of Science.  Web of Science allows you to find who has cited particular authors, which is a very useful way to track how research is developing.

Books

The longer format of books makes them suitable for comprehensive treatment of topics, although they are typically less timely than articles.  The percentage of books purchased by the Libraries in electronic form is increasing.  Books can also be major reference works, written by experts to summarize the state of the art. Notable reference works at RUL include:

Dictionary of Economics - Palgrave's Dictionary is more of an encyclopedia, providing substantial articles for thousands of economic topics. The online dictionary was published in 2008 and is continually revised. It also includes an archive with articles from the classic 1987 edition.

Handbooks in Economics -Elsevier's series of more than 50 volumes covering subdisciplines in economics. An excellent place to get a solid grounding in a field.

To search Rutgers' Libraries holdings for individual titles, or by subject, use QuickSearchQuickSearch provides links to electronic books, and print books can be delivered from any campus. Books can be renewed indefinitely unless recalled.  Alexander Library holds the largest collection in economics at Rutgers, although there are significant collections in business at Carr and Dana Libraries.  The Libraries now have full access to current titles from Springer in business and economics, as well as math and statistics.

Government documents are a special case.  Not all goverment documents are cataloged, so please check with me or a documents librarian before concluding that we do not have an item.

RUL participates in several shared access arrangements that allow us to get books from other libraries quickly and easily.  Most prominent of these is E-ZBorrow, which lets you do your own searching and place your own requests for material. For further information on other services, consult the Books page.

Also, please let me know if you have book recommendations so that I can buy them for the library. The best time for this is in the Fall semester or early Spring.  By late Spring and Summer all of our book budget has usually been spent.

Data Librarian

Ryan Womack's picture
Ryan Womack
Contact:
Alexander Library
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 USA
848-932-6107
Website
Subjects:Data, Economics

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