How do we measure the diversity of our research agenda?

The purpose of Bank Overground is to share our internal analysis. Each bite-sized post summarises a piece of analysis that supported a policy or operational decision.
Published on 02 August 2019
The Bank of England published a record number of Staff Working Papers in 2018. New analysis shows that our research output has become more diverse in recent years, with our researchers considering a wider range of topics.

The Bank of England has been publishing Staff Working Papers (SWPs) for almost 30 years, with the first one published in 1992. A total of 74 SWPs were published last year, the highest number since the series began.

In our 2014 strategic plan, we pledged to deliver analytical excellence and to investigate a wider range of issues in our research.  We aimed to draw on new methods, alternative data sources and different perspectives beyond orthodox macroeconomics.

Since then, the number of SWPs we publish annually has doubled and they now address a broader range of topics within economics.  To measure the diversity of Bank research, we have analysed the Journal of Economic Literature (JEL) classification codes attached to SWPs.

Chart A shows the distribution of SWPs by JEL category. Before 2014, the most common primary JEL category assigned to our SWPs was Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics.

Chart A

Staff Working Paper research themes as shown by Journal of Economic Literature classification code

Staff Working Paper research themes as shown by Journal of Economic Literature classification code

Now the most common category is Financial Economics. Over the last five years, a number of JEL categories have been assigned to our SWPs for the first time, including Law and Economics, and Business Administration and Business Economics.

Each SWP can be tagged with multiple JEL codes. The number of SWPs covering three or more JEL categories has increased (Chart B).

Chart B 

The number of Journal of Economic Literature codes assigned to Staff Working Papers

Chart B

This post has been prepared with the help of David Bholat, James Brookes, Shahid Nazir and Michael Handelman.

This analysis was presented to the Research Steering Group in June 2019.

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