Possible Trouble Spots for Full Text Downloads of NBER Working Papers

General overview:

The path to a full-text download is through a ``bibliographic page'' that is available for each working paper. You can get to that page via a search engine (see www.nber.org/papers) or via static html pages by JEL class (see papers.nber.org/jel), NBER program name (at papers.nber.org/papersbyprog) or from the ``New this week'' page However you get to the bibliographic page, the procedure for obtaining the full text is the same. You select on ``Full-Text'' above the abstract and select one of the listed options.

Single Copy Sales

Papers are available through an arrangement with ssrn.com for order processing and fullfillment.

The order basket is like many other such systems, and will ask for the credit card number, addresses, etc. If you ask for electronic delivery, this will be done, in Adobe PDF format. You will need the free Adobe Reader to read or print the paper. Problems with delivery should be addressed to nbersupport@ssrn.com.

Site Authorizations

Authorized users (including online subscribers) of the working paper series and sites with domain names in ``.GOV'' or in developing countries and transition economies may download papers for free. No order basket is used is this case; rather, buttons for full-text delivery are place on the abstract page. If the paper is not offered, then the paper is not visible to the search engine. This is probably because the paper is too old or too new to be have been made available, but it could just be a temporary computer failure. If the button is visible, just select it to view the paper. If the paper is offered for single copy sales, but there is no free download button, then your computer is not recognized by ours as an authorized site.

Subscribers are recognized by network number, domain name, or individual login.

What could go wrong?

If you can't find the paper in our database, there are several possibilities:

  • Spelling variations, too restrictive a search, etc. Try using first names for authors, or go to papers.nber.org/jel to locate the paper by JEL class.
  • The paper may not be one of ours. Many conference papers in NBER volumes were never issued as NBER working papers.

If you aren't offered the full-text download, the most likely explanations are:

  • The paper isn't available. Check papers.nber.org/stats.shtml for a table of the first and last papers available in full text format. Actually, we now make available every paper though a special order facility, but you have to wait a few days.
  • No site authorization. Try to download the following paper: http://papers.nber.org/papers/w0000.pdf. Since we know that dummy paper exists in full text form, a failure would likely be due to lack of authorization.
  • No reverse name lookup at your site. We can't find out your domain name if reverse name lookup doesn't work on your network nameserver. See your network administrator. This is especially likely to be the problem with the authorizations for non-subscriber, (country based) domains because we probably won't have network numbers for those sites. There is more information on reverse name lookup .
  • Broad area caching. We are seeing that some institutions access WWW through cache engines that cover an entire ISP, multiple campuses, even entire countries. For example, many universities in the UK were for a long time cached by an engine called ginger.wwwcache.ja.uk.net. For several weeks all queries from those universities came to us via that cache, and we didn't know if they were from a subscribing site or not. Two solutions to this problem developed. First, the subscribing universities modified the ACL files for their on-campus cache engines to forward reqeusts of nber.org directly to us, and not to the national cache engine. Second, we found that the Janet cache (obeying HTTP 1.1) includes some information about previous cache engines a request has passed through. We now recognize that if a request came from an eligible campus, we should honor it even though the request comes to us from Janet. We would interested in learning what others are doing about this problem (email wwp@nber.org). As a workaround, select on ``Information for subscribers and other expecting free downloads'' on the bibliographic page and follow the instructions. More information is available here.

If you are offered a full-text download, but can't view the file, likely problems are:

  • If Adobe Reader doesn't appear to load, hit 'Refresh'.
  • You don't have the Adobe PDF reader installed. Get it at www.adobe.com. The reader will need to be reinstalled if your browser is updated. You can test your installation by browsing test.pdf
  • If Reader gives a Colorspace Error you need a more recent browser.
  • Your browser is too old. Get MS IE or Netscape from at least version 3.01 or higher. Lynx can download (but not display) the full-text. If you do a ``save as'' and your browser picks a default file name that does not end in ``.pdf'', you probably need a newer browser, but you may be able to change the extension and view the file.
  • If the paper appears to be a blank page, and you are using MSIE 5.0(beta), it is a bug in the browser. A workaround is to hit 'reload' or 'refresh' twice. Better still, upgrade the browser (and remember to reinstall Adobe reader).
  • Your connection is too slow. Most papers are in PDF Image format. This means that the pages are stored as pictures, not text. This format is choosen because it is accurate, but has the limitation of being bulky. While it is possible to download a 2 or 3 megabyte file over a standard modem line, it will take at least 10 minutes, and may time out if your Internet connection is problematic. We are trying to increase the proportion of PDF Text format documents, which are much smaller.
  • ``Document contains no data''. This is a mystery glitch that can sometimes be overcome by using the browser back button, then reload, then forward.
  • In Windows it sometimes works better to right-click on the ``PDF' button and ``save as'' remembering to using the extension ``.pdf''.
  • If you are still using Adobe Reader 3.x or earlier, you must upgrade before investing any further effort in diagnosis. Even if you are using Acrobat 4.0, that won't work well unless you have the slip-stream release marked 4.05 or better in the "About" box. The update is not noted on the packaging or on the installation screen.
  • Please be advised the none of these PDF files are protected using the PDF password or lock facility. If you can't view a file it isn't for that reason.

If you can view and print the file, but can't save it to view latter:

  • This is a bug or design error in MSIE. ``File|Save as...'' in MSIE the creates a zero byte file. To save a copy go back to the ``View PDF'' buuton on our web page and right click instead of left clicking. This should work with both Netscape and MSIE.
  • Also, sometimes Adobe reader can load a file from the ``File|Open'' menu, even if double clicking of the file icon doesn't work. This is probably a setup issue that can be fixed by reinstalling Adobe.

If you purchased a single copy and did not receive any emailed invoice from SSRN, the problem is likely:

  • You left an invalid email address.
  • You forgot to select on the ``submit'' button on the order form.

If you purchase a single copy for email delivery, likely problems include those discussed in the previous sections, plus:

  • Your mailbox can't hold such a large file.
  • Your mail reader can't handle mime encoded documents.

Both of the last two problems can be worked around by using the URL sent to you in the emailed invoice.

If you can view the paper, but not print it (or not all of it), the most likely problems are:

  • Your network administrator has put a limit on the maximum size (in bytes, not pages) that can be printed. Try printing http://www.nber.org/test.pdf (a very short document).
  • You didn't give it enough time. Try printing just one page, and if that works, allow up to half an hour for the full document.
  • You are using the browser print button, instead of the Acrobat print button.
  • Acrobat is running out of memory. Save the paper and shutdown the computer before trying again.
  • Print driver problems with Acrobat and Windows-95/98. Try using a compatible driver for your printer, such as the HP LJ III driver with an HP LJ IV printer.
  • The Adobe link given above also discusses many printing problems.

If the paper looks wrong - missing pages, missing characters, missing figures or other production problems:

  • Send a notice to ishapiro@nber.org. A new PDF can normally be prepared by the next business day. Please be specific about the defect - tell us the page number of a bad or missing page.

If you still need help, send an email message to wwp@nber.org with the host name and/or IP address of the computer you are using, the number of the working paper you are having difficulty with, and the time of the failure (in New York). We can look up the log and perhaps diagnose the problem, or save it for our programmer. Be sure to tell us if the problem seems to be specific to a particular working paper, and if any other computers on the same network can successfully obtain the papers.

If you have ordered the same paper several times in a single short session, the SSRN.com clerk will probably notice and cancel the duplicate bills. But you might want to send a message to nbersupport@ssrn.com.

If you are a subscriber, or otherwise entitled to free downloads, do not use the order basket. It will send a bill. You should be offered a download directly after selecting ``Full-Text'' on the bibliographic page.

When sending email about downloading problems, please remember to include the working paper number and the time of day in New York.

Daniel Feenberg
feenberg atsign nber dot org

Last revision 26 October 2009