Economists and peer review

With the peer review process sometimes taking up to 5 years for a paper to see the light of day, some economists have started to wonder whether there is a more efficient way of doing things.

Preston McAfee has decided to stir things up by offering a no revisions option to those who submit a paper to the journal Economic Inquiry. Papers would be accepted or rejected by reviewers saving a lot of peer review ping-pong as drafts of papers go back and forth for revisions between authors and reviewers. It will be interesting to see how this takes off – McAfee has at least one high-profile supporter.

A paper by Glenn Ellison of MIT also addresses the issue – Is Peer Review in Decline? – and starts to contemplate whether the Internet is playing a role in this changing pattern of research dissemination.

Over the past decade there has been a decline in the fraction of papers in top economics journals written by economists from the highest-ranked economics departments. This paper documents this fact and uses additional data on publications and citations to assess various potential explanations. Several observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the Internet improves the ability of high-profile authors to disseminate their research without going through the traditional peer-review process

This may well be a luxury that American based economists can afford, but UK economists assessed via the RAE may well need to carry on the playing the peer review game a little longer.

The rise of a commentator class of blogging economists, the success of services like EconPapers where economists can swiftly share research outcomes amongst themselves and even the emergence of economics podcasts, show that you don’t have to wait years to get people talking about your research – and that emerging Web 2.0 technologies can help you bypass traditional dissemination routes.

Find more economists papers about the peer review process via EconPapers and try Intute: Social Sciences for more Internet resources on economics.

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