If you'd like to read about how I've built the database and the sources I've used, check out my piece about it from last year. Don't expect it to be perfect - there are omissions and the citations are not always error-free - but it's a pretty comprehensive start for anyone looking to embark on furthering the state of knowledge on Bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain more generally.
The quality of papers is... um... variable and obviously I haven't had a chance to actually read most of them (as there are now over 550 in total), so don't be surprised if some are not as 'academic' or robust as you might like. That said, the quality of papers has - in general - improved over the last year. For the record, the basic definition of 'academic' in this context is: showing signs of a systematic research and analysis process that extends beyond just ranting, idle speculation or marketing. Note, though, that this does not narrow it to bland positivist (social) science. High quality and high effort philosophical, 'non-scientific' and even partisan political explorations are considered valid.
|AIN'T THAT THE TRUTH|
Main themesAs expected, there is still tonnes of technical geekery on the Bitcoin protocol, its flaws, bugs and possible improvements. These are the papers with titles like "Threshold-optimal DSA/ECDSA signatures and an application to Bitcoin wallet security". There is, however, a noticeable uptick in papers that go beyond the technical protocol and into other - still technical, but more political - areas like regulations, taxation and legal frameworks for Bitcoin. This is a natural result of the fact that while the initial interest in Bitcoin concerned the nature of the system, the subsequent usage of bitcoin tokens in the real world opens up practical concerns like 'should it be subject to VAT?'
In the background there is a still a steady stream of papers on questions of Bitcoin economics, the markets, price discovery, and drivers of its perceived value. The philosophy, anthropology, geography, and political dynamics of Bitcoin remain very underrepresented, but there are a nevertheless some great papers in that line (see below for examples).
More papers in big prestige journals
There are definitely a greater number of pieces coming out in some top peer-reviewed journals. These are not necessarily the most interesting papers (and I don't necessarily believe that top journals carry the best research), but it shows the increasing legitimacy of Bitcoin as a mainstream research topic. Examples include:
- The Journal of Economic Perspectives: Bitcoin: Economics, Technology, and Governance
- Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money: Price discovery on Bitcoin exchanges
- Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance: Accounting Issues Related to Bitcoins
- Oxford Journal of Legal Studies: Self-Enforcing Online Dispute Resolution: Lessons from Bitcoin
Niche papers on niche topics in niche journals
Beyond the explorations of standard Bitcoin themes (the prices, the regulations, the code) there are also some interesting niche research areas coming out. For example:
- The intersection between Bitcoin and Islamic finance has been explored in two papers: Bitcoin in Islamic Banking and Finance & Bitcoin and Islamic Finance
- Interesting explorations of the philosophy of cryptocurrency, as in: Cryptocurrencies as narrative technologies
- Some more geographically specific papers, as in: New Technology Experience in Turkey: The Case of Bitcoin & Greece withdraws from Euro and runs on Bitcoin; April Fools Prank or Serious Possibility?
- Analysis of politics and Bitcoin ideology: Bitcoin as Politics: Distributed Right-Wing Extremism and Visions of a Techno-Leviathan: The Politics of the Bitcoin Blockchain (by me!)
- Business analysis of Bitcoin companies: Value Creation in Cryptocurrency Networks: Towards A Taxonomy of Digital Business Models for Bitcoin Companies & 'A Bad Apple Went Away': Exploring Resilience Among Bitcoin Entrepreneurs
- Novel uses of Bitcoin: A Bit-ter divorce: Using Bitcoin to hide marital assets & ZombieCoin: Powering Next-Generation Botnets with Bitcoin & How to Use Bitcoin to Play Decentralized Poker
The 'grey literature' and student thesesThere are a lot of self-published research pieces, working papers and research reports from obscure institutes (sometimes this is called 'grey literature'). I am not an academic snob who scoffs at such papers, so take a look at the various SSRN and independent papers out there. There are also a lot more long student thesis papers from university graduates. For example, it's worth taking a look at:
- Money for Nothing and Bits for Free: The Geographies of Bitcoin (University of Toronto)
- Bitcoin and the Politics of Distributed Trust (Anthropology, Swarthmore College)
Blockchain 2.0: Fork the database?
- New Kids on the Blockchain: How Bitcoin's Technology Could Reinvent the Stock Market
- Decentralized Blockchain Technology and the Rise of Lex Cryptographia
- Oh yeah, and I wrote this slightly ridiculous one: Blockchain Technology for Reputation Scoring of Financial Actors
That said, it has occurred to me that an academic paper database on the topic of 'Bitcoin' might not really capture the topic of 'Blockchain', so I may consider starting a different database for papers that focus exclusively on non-Bitcoin blockchain systems. Or someone else can make that...
Hope you enjoy & please do donate!
Bear in mind that I update this database as a piece of service to the Bitcoin community and broader academic community, and I don't get paid, so please do consider making a small donation to either my Bitcoin address, or via Paypal. Really hope you find the database useful!