Saturday, February 25, 2012

Microsoft Academic Search Update

Back in December I blogged about Microsoft Academic Search. My conclusion was that though it offered some innovative ways of presenting data, it was still in an early stage of development compared to the offerings from Thomson (Web of Science/Researcher ID), Elsevier (Scopus), and Google (Scholar and Citations).

I recently received an e-mail from the project lead for Microsoft Academic Search. They have merged my various profiles. The number of citations is now 2109 which is similar to the number in Scopus. There are still, however, a lot of publications in the profile that aren't mine. It also says I have collaborated with 147 co-authors. I'd be surprised if the number was greater than 37. Based on Google that is roughly the number. The large number must be because of the extraneous publications. People like me are problematic for disambiguation algorithms of this type as we move around a lot.

Though they didn't point this out to me, it seems that there is a way to correct the record. I submitted corrections to my record. It is a similar approach to the Scopus Author Profile. You can identify which articles are not yours and then submit the info to Microsoft. Similarly, you can request author merges.

Microsoft have also opened their API to users. That's beyond my capabilities I think but very interesting.

So, this is potentially a very interesting service, but still really in the "beta" stage. But then, all author profile services have their issues.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Elsevier Responds to the Boycott

Elsevier have responded to the boycott by producing a new e-mail newsletter for authors. The first issue includes a link to a page about the various open access options that Elsevier offer authors. I think some of the boycotters and their sympathisers simply aren't aware of these options. Elsevier hasn't until now highlighted them very much. So I think this is a positive development. Article transfer is also a good innovation - transferring the peer review reports from a journal that rejects a paper to another journal in the group that might instead be interested rather than setting out requesting new referees all over again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Rise and Fall of Ecological Economics

Mark Sagoff has written an article with this title in the Breakthrough Journal. This is a new publication of the Breakthrough Institute which is a contrarian but self-described "progressive" think tank that has a large focus on environmental issues.

In the article Sagoff mainly claims that ecological economics started promisingly but got sidetracked by adopting environmental valuation and cost-benefit analysis and is now ignored by everyone. There are lots of other discussions about the history of ecology etc. along the way. Sagoff has been a consistent opponent of cost-benefit analysis. I think the essay is very polemical and overemphasizes some trends while ignoring others. Some ecological economists have adopted mainstream approaches to non-market valuation of the environment for largely pragmatic reasons as described. But this is by no means all or even the majority of ecological economists, especially in Europe. Ecological Economics does publish quite a few papers on valuation but also on all kinds of other topics and approaches. We have always taken a very open-minded and eclectic approach. There has been convergence between ecological and mainstream environmental economics over time, but it hasn't been a one way street.

Personally, I have always been opposed to non-market environmental valuation for both practical and philosophical reasons. I don't believe that it is possible to come up with at all credible prices through these approaches and especially not sustainability-relevant prices. And I don't think CBA should be used for making large societal decisions as they are more about distribution than efficiency. I am all for efficiency though in implementing goals once society has decided on them.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Journal of Economic Surveys 2012

Finally, my paper on interfuel substitution has been published in a formal issue of the journal:

Stern D. I. (2012) Interfuel substitution: A meta-analysis, Journal of Economic Surveys 26(2), 307-331.

It has been online on the journal's website since October 2010. A free working paper version is also available. I first blogged about this paper back in 2009 when the working paper went up. Since then we got a grant from the ARC which will allow me to hire a postdoc to look at the issues raised in that blogpost about climate change models. Specifically, will improved estimates of elasticities of substitution between fuels and between energy and capital make a big difference to predicted costs of climate change policies. I'll keep you posted on that over the next three years! :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Acceptance Rates in the Top Environmental Economics Journals

How hard is it to get published in the top journals in environmental economics? From a variety of sources:

JEEM is a lot tougher to get into than the other two journals, but they aren't exactly easy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Papers on Drivers and Trends

What are the most classic journal articles on global drivers and trends of greenhouse gas emissions and anthropogenic climate change? Below are some papers that mostly have a lot of citations. Obviously, I don't agree with the content of all of them, but for this purpose I want to illustrate the evolution of thought on this matter. I've included IPCC scenarios, the environmental Kuznets curve, the emissions convergence literature, and papers by natural scientists.

I'm only just getting started on putting this review together, so will welcome any suggestions! In particular is there a journal article that can stand in for the Leggett et al. 1992 report on the IS92 scenarios? (I'm not allowed to include "grey literature"). No, this is not for the IPCC.

Arrhenius, Svante (1896) On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground, Philosophical Magazine Series 5 41 (April): 237-276.

Shafik, N. (1994) Economic development and environmental quality: an econometric analysis, Oxford Economic Papers 46: 757-773.

Holtz-Eakin, Douglas and Thomas M. Selden (1995) Stoking the fires? CO2 emissions and economic growth, Journal of Public Economics 57(1): 85-101.

Dietz, Thomas, and Eugene A. Rosa (1997) “Effects of population and affluence on CO2 emissions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 94 (1) (January 7): 175 -179.

Schmalensee, R., Stoker, T. M., & Judson, R. A. (1998) World carbon dioxide emissions: 1950-2050. Review of Economics and Statistics 80: 15-27.

Grübler, Arnulf, Nebojsa Nakicénovic, and David G. Victor (1999) Dynamics of energy technologies and global change, Energy Policy 27: 247-280.

Ruddiman, William F. (2003) The anthropogenic greenhouse era began thousands of years ago, Climatic Change 61(3): 261-293.

Strazicich, Mark C. and John A. List (2003) Are CO2 emission levels converging among industrial countries? Environmental and Resource Economics 24(3): 263-271.

Aldy, Joseph E. (2006) Per capita carbon dioxide emissions: convergence or divergence? Environmental and Resource Economics 33(4): 533-555.

Riahi, Keywan, Arnulf Grübler, Nebojsa Nakicenovic (2007) Scenarios of long-term socio-economic and environmental development under climate stabilization, Technological Forecasting & Social Change 74: 887–935.

Raupach, Michael R., Gregg Marland, Philippe Ciais, Corinne Le Quéré, Josep G. Canadell, Gernot Klepper, Christopher B. Field (2007) Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104(24): 10288-10923.

Garnaut, Ross, Stephen Howes, Frank Jotzo, and Peter Sheehan (2008) Emissions in the Platinum Age: the implications of rapid development for climate-change mitigation, Oxford Review of Economic Policy 24(2): 337-401.

Westerlund, Joakim and Syed A. Basher (2008) Testing for convergence in carbon dioxide emissions using a century of panel data, Environmental and Resource Economics 40:109–120.

Vollebergh, Herman R.J., Bertrand Melenberg, and Elbert Dijkgraaf (2009) Identifying reduced-form relations with panel data: The case of pollution and income, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 58(1): 27-42.

Henriques, Sofia Teives, and Astrid Kander (2010) “The modest environmental relief resulting from the transition to a service economy.” Ecological Economics 70 (2) (December 15): 271-282.

van Vuuren, Detlef P., Jae Edmonds, Mikiko Kainuma, Keywan Riahi, Allison Thomson, Kathy Hibbard, George C. Hurtt, Tom Kram, Volker Krey, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Toshihiko Masui, Malte Meinshausen, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Steven J. Smith, and Steven K. Rose (2011) The representative concentration pathways: an overview, Climatic Change 109(1-2): 5-31.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

In Defence of Elsevier

The hot topic at the moment in the scholarly publishing world is the growing movement to boycott Elsevier journals. This is a new angle on the open access debate. Elsevier is the biggest publisher of academic journals with over 2600 titles. Yes Elsevier make a lot of profit (About 1/3 of revenues) and they have engaged in dubious practices involving "fake medical journals" but that is no reason for a general boycott in my opinion. The current movement has been sparked by Elsevier's support for the US "Research Works Act". Whatever you think of that potential legislation, Elsevier are hardly the only supporter of it.

I am an associate editor of Ecological Economics which is published by Elsevier. The International Society for Ecological Economics has outsourced publication of their journal to the company. This certainly made sense in the days before electronic publication. Today, it might make a bit less sense given that it would be easier to replicate many of Elsevier's various functions, but it would still be a lot of extra work for the society. Elsevier make the journal available at a heavily discounted price to members of the society. More generally, Elsevier allow authors in all their journals to archive the final version of the paper (before they format it) on their institutional servers. So Elsevier helps us distribute our work and doesn't prevent free access to the results. Seems like a win-win to me, hardly a reason for a boycott. The Scopus citation database is another great service developed by Elsevier. Of course, they charge institutions huge amounts of money for this, but they also provide access for 30 days free of charge to referees for their journals.

Anyway, the whole argument that paying for subscription journals is paying for science twice (the other time is public funding of research grants and scientists' salaries) doesn't make sense. Elsevier is like Walmart. They distribute the product and this costs money. Walmart also makes a lot of money and has some monopoly power. Of course, there are a lot of people boycotting Walmart too, but something of a minority. I don't see why using public money to pay PLOS to publish a paper is morally better than using it for a university library to subscribe to a journal. One way or another the costs have to paid. Publishing in gold open access will allow greater access but favors more heavily funded authors getting published (PLOS does in fact waive publication fees if you can't pay but other publishers don't).

For the sake of search engines: Defence seems to be the British spelling and defense the American.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Inside Story on the 2010 ERA Economics Journals Rankings

Two Monash economists have written a working paper on bias in the selection of the economics journal ranks used in the ERA research assessment exercise in Australia. The selectors were all the full professors in economics in Australia identified by the Economic Society of Australia (ESA). They tended to vote for journals they had published in etc... In fact the rankings of economics journals (since abolished) were not that bad. There were a few glaring anomalies but these weren't the responsibility of the ESA. We are still using these rankings in practice. It's a meme that has stuck at least in economics.

Crawford School Working Papers in January 2012

Here are come highlights of the Crawford School's working papers series in January 2012. Across all six series we got 2198 abstract views and 754 downloads. The most downloaded papers in each series were:

Crawford School Research Papers:

David Stern - From Correlation to Granger Causality

Arndt-Corden Department of Economics, Departmental Working Papers:

Pierre van der Eng - Total Factor Productivity and Economic Growth in Indonesia

ASARC Working Papers:

Sunila George, Raghbendra Jha, and Hari K. Nagarajan - The Evolution and Structure of the Two-wheeler Industry in India

Asia Pacific Economics Papers:


CCEP Working Papers:

Leo Dobes -
Adaptation to climate change: Formulating policy under uncertainty

Development Policy Centre Discussion Papers:

Stephen Howes - An overview of aid effectiveness, determinants and strategies

Congratulations to all the authors!

New papers in January include:

Determinants of Residential Water Consumption: Evidence and Analysis from a Ten-country Household Survey by Quentin Grafton, Michael Ward, Hang To, and Tom Kompas

Adaptation to climate change: Formulating policy under uncertainty by Leo Dobes

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Roger Pielke Speaks at Crawford School

Roger Pielke spoke today at the Crawford School about his book The Climate Fix. He mainly focused on how the only real solution to the climate change problem is decarbonization of the energy supply. Energy efficiency will have less effect and population control or reducing GDP are non-starters and will have a relatively small effect. He spent a lot of time on how the required rates of decarbonization to reach climate change targets like reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 are much more rapid than any historical changes. This is true, but doesn't mean it is impossible as we haven't really tried to do it yet. The question is more about political feasibility. His answer is we need to make climate policy a positive about innovation and green jobs rather than a negative about cutting back and being dictated to by science which just ends up with backlash from the public and vested interests. He is in favor of a low carbon tax with the proceeds being earmarked for innovation. I don't really disagree with these conclusions but I think he plays up the unfeasibility thing too much. And he didn't really discuss the political aspects much or really focus on his policy options. In fact some audience members told me afterwards that they didn't think he talked about policy at all.


Following an exchange on Roger's blog he pointed to an article he wrote that expands more on the proposed policy than he did in his talk.