Sunday, June 28, 2009

How Optimistic Are You about Reductions in Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

I've added a poll at the upper righthand side of the blog asking: "What Will Be the Global Level of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2050 Compared to Today?" I'm interested in total world emissions (not per capita) and this is emissions not concentrations. Please go ahead and vote!

eigenfactor.org

Eigenfactor.com is a relatively new website that provides ratings for academic journals. It's main competitor is the venerable Journal Citation Reports from ISI and in the field of economics impact factors computed by RePEc from the information in their database. Eigenfactor actually derives its data from ISI. It uses the record of citations in a given year to articles published in the previous five years. Journal Citation Reports is now also giving five year impact factors in addition to its traditional two year impact factors as well as eignefactor.org's results. The two year impact factor (e.g. average number of citations in 2008 to articles published in 2006 and 2007) has always been very inadequate in a field like economics where there are long publication delays and articles also tend to stand the test of time relatively well.

Eigenfactor.org appears to use a recursive impact index (citations in more highly cited journals count for more than citations in low prestige journals) in a similar way to RePEc with some adjustment for differences in citation rates across disciplines. They ignore self-citation by journals. The Eigenfactor score is based on total citations for the journal while the Article Influence Score is a per article measure that is closer to traditional impact factors. You can learn much more about the methods at their website.

To compare the different indicators I made a table for three of the top journals in each of energy and environmental economics:



I used the 2008 Article Influence Scores available from Journal Citation Reports. The most recent scores available for free on the eigenfactor.org website are for 2006. JEEM is clearly the top environmental economics journal - it doesn't matter which indicator you use. When you limit citations to only those in the economics literature as RePEc does, Ecological Economics appears much weaker than when all possible citations are included. This confirms our findings that Ecological Economics tended to be cited more in interdisciplinary outlets. Energy Policy too is weak in the economics sphere and generally appears to be cited in less prestigious journals than the Energy Journal does.

I've also noticed that the relative rank of the Energy Journal has declined over time while that of Energy Economics has risen. Energy Economics' Article Influence Score was only 0.51 in 2006 while the Energy Journal's was 0.957.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New Global Ranking of Economics Research Institutions

RePEc has developed a new global ranking of economics research institutions. The new ranking agglomerates economists at different departments within an institution. Previous RePEc rankings of institutions have treated each department as a separate entity. Universities like Australian National University have suffered because they have four main economics departments (!) as well as a few economists scattered around other units at the university. In the new ranking, ANU is the top economics institution in Australia, ranked 52nd globally (between the two top Israeli institutions - from one of which I got my undergrad degree). University of Melbourne is second in Australia at 70th globally. ANU ranks higher in most general rankings of universities. Economics is a relatively weak discipline in Australia.

In the usual rankings, Melbourne is the top economics department in Australia followed by the economics division of the Research School of the Social Sciences at ANU.

On the other hand, agglomerating all London "colleges" into a single number for "University of London" doesn't make much sense to me. LSE, Imperial, Kings, UCL etc. might as well be separate universities (I got my masters degree from one of them).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Conspicuous Blogging

An interesting article about changes in the ways people are signalling status - a switch from conspicuous consumption of material goods to online signalling through the number of Facebook friends say. I'm not sure quite how important this is as a trend in quantitative terms but there is certainly something in it. It fits in with similar news from Japan. Of course those of us in academia have long signalled our status through publication, citation, winning research grants etc. and the same has been true of other professions such as art or music. Conspicuous production rather than consumption. I commented in my 1997 paper in Ecological Economics that apart from basic needs the goods and services that consumers use are to some degree arbitrary and historically contingent and that other perhaps less environmentally destructive goods and services might satisfy the same wants.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another Review of Taleb



I wrote a very short review of "The Black Swan" a little while ago. Here is a good but very long review of Nicholas Nassim Taleb. A summary would be: "Taleb is unoriginal when right, otherwise wrong (especially about option pricing), and a dilettante/crank".

Monday, June 1, 2009

Most Expensive U.S. Suburbs by State

Business Week has a list of the most expensive U.S. suburbs in each state. What's stunning from an Australian perspective is that in many states the most expensive suburbs are far cheaper than the median prices in all major Australian metropolitan areas.