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Presentation of the Mapping Macroeconomics Project

Aurélien Goutsmedt and Alexandre Truc / Last compiled on 2021-03-17

What is the Mapping Macroeconomics Project

The finished project:

This project has received a grant from the History of Economics Sociey New Initiatives Fund. It is conducted by Aurélien Goutsmedt and Alexandre Truc. The full project demand can be find here. You can find a more in-depth presentation of the project here. Several collaborators are likely to join us progressively.

It takes as a point of departure that economics has been characterized since the 1970s by an exponential increase in the number of articles published in academic journals. This phenomenon makes it harder for historians of economics to properly assess the trends in the transformation of economics, the main topics researched, the most influential authors and ideas, etc. As a result, historians of this period run the risk of relying, at least as first pass, on a presentist view of the history of ideas: what today’s economists consider as important contributions from the past and the most influential authors. When historians shield themselves from the retrospective views of the practising economists, they have to delve into the literature of the past that has been forgotten for the most part and to scrutinize the network of authors that are little known. This effort allows historians to correct the potted histories of the practising economists and to propose alternative narratives of the evolution of the discipline. However, the bigger the literature to be studied is, the harder the historians’ capacity to grasp the overall picture of the time.

We agree with those who consider that developing collective quantitative tools could help historians to confront this challenge. The issues and uses of quantitative tools in history of economics have been the topic of many discussions in our field—see for instance Backhouse (1998), Claveau and Gingras (2016) and the Journal of Economic Methodology special issue in 2018, in particular Edwards, Giraud, and Schinckus (2018) and Cherrier and Svorenčík (2018)—, but the technical barrier posed by the methods remains an obstacle for many historians. The challenges and opportunities that a quantitative history brings are particularly useful to the recent history of macroeconomics. Practising macroeconomists are eager to tell narratives of the evolution of their field that serve the purpose of intervening on current debates, by giving credit to particular authors and weight to specific ideas. Historians who go into this area find plenty of accounts by macroeconomists and have to handle the vast increase in the macroeconomic literature since the last quarter of the past century.

Our goal is to build an online interactive platform displaying bibliometric data on a large set of macroeconomic articles. We aim at settling the basis for a broad and long-run project on the history of macroeconomics, as well as to bring to historians tools to run quantitative inquiries to support their own research work.

Structure of the Github repository

You will find in this repository all the R scripts used to build our data and analyses.


You will find here all the scripts and documentation relative to the extraction of the JEL codes from Econlit and the matching with Web of Science database. It deals with generating the list of articles, references, authors, affiliations, etc. that will be used after.


This directory gathers all the scripts and documentation for the first step of the project:

  • testing different tools and methods
  • first round of analysis of our data by segmenting them in several sub-periods. We build different networks (coupling, cocitation, co-authorship, etc.) and analyse them for each sub-period.


This directory gathers all the scripts and documentation for the production of data for the online platform. It deals with:

  • creating networks with a moving window;
  • finding communities that remain over the windows.


This file gathers some tests with interactive networks. Not really useful for our project and not at all for the platform, but it allows us to test different packages to produce interactives networks, that could be useful in communicating on our project or to explore our data/networks.


Here are all the scripts and docs used by Aurélien and Alexandre for their paper on the European Economic Review.


Backhouse, Roger E. 1998. “The Transformation of U.S. Economics, 1920-1960, Viewed Through a Survey of Journal Articles.” History of Political Economy 30 (4): 85–107.

Cherrier, Beatrice, and Andrej Svorenčík. 2018. “The Quantitative Turn in the History of Economics: Promises, Perils and Challenges.” Journal of Economic Methodology 0 (0): 1–11.

Claveau, François, and Yves Gingras. 2016. “Macrodynamics of Economics: A Bibliometric History.” History of Political Economy 48 (4): 551–92.

Edwards, José, Yann Giraud, and Christophe Schinckus. 2018. “A Quantitative Turn in the Historiography of Economics?” Journal of Economic Methodology 25 (4): 283–90.


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