Secrets of Economics Editors

Secrets of Economics Editors

Michael Szenberg
Lall Ramrattan
foreword by Robert M. Solow
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 408
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  • Book Info
    Secrets of Economics Editors
    Book Description:

    Editors of academic journals are often the top scholars in their fields. They are charged with managing the flow of hundreds of manuscripts each year -- from submission to review to rejection or acceptance -- all while continuing their own scholarly pursuits. Tenure decisions often turn on who has published what in which journals, but editors can accept only a fraction of the papers submitted. In this book, past and present editors of economics journals discuss navigating the world of academic journals. Their contributions offer essential reading for anyone who has ever submitted a paper, served as a referee or associate editor, edited a journal -- or read an article and wondered why it was published. The editors describe their experiences at journals that range from theAmerican Economic Reviewto theJournal of Sports Economics. The issues they examine include late referee reports, slow resubmission of manuscripts, and plagiarism -- as well as the difficulties of "herding cats" and the benefits of husband-wife editorial partnerships. They consider the role of the editor, as gatekeeper or developer of content; and they advise authors to write more carefully and clearly, to include citations that locate their articles in the context of the existing literature, and to update their work after it has been submitted and rejected elsewhere. The chapters also offer a timely, insider's perspective on the general effectiveness of the system of academic journals in economics.ContributorsRichard V. Adkisson, Richard G. Anderson, William A. Barnett, Suzanne R. Becker, William R. Becker, Daniel W. Bromley, William G. Dewald, Antony W. Dnes, Zvi Eckstein, Richard Friberg, Esther Gal-Or, Craufurd Goodwin, Thorvaldur Gylfason, Campbell R. Harvey, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Leo H. Kahane, R. Preston McAfee, John Pencavel, Gerald Pfann, Steven Pressman, Lall B. Ramrattan, J. Barkley Rosser Jr., Paul H. Rubin, William F. Shughart II, Robert M. Solow, Daniel F. Spulber, Michael Szenberg, Timothy Taylor, Abu N.M. Wahid, Michael Watts, Lawrence J. White, Jürgen von Hagen, Fabrizio Zilibotti

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32011-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Robert M. Solow

    I would have made a lousy journal editor. At the simplest level, these essays demonstrate convincingly that editing an economics journal is a formidable managerial project. Hundreds of submissions arrive each year. They have to be channeled to appropriate—knowledgeable but not too opinionated—associate editors and referees. In turn, the referees have to be nudged, cajoled, and flattered into producing fair and useful reviews, preferably in finite time. And records have to be kept every step of the way: where is each paper now, when did it get there, what has been received about it? The editor cannot afford...

  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    Michael Szenberg
  5. Introduction: What Editors Do and Want to Tell Us
    (pp. 1-30)
    Michael Watts

    Being named the editor of a respected academic journal is a clear signal of ability and professional esteem on many dimensions, in almost all cases including a long and well-known record of scholarship in a field or sub-field. The past and present editors who have contributed chapters to this volume are a highly successful group of mostly senior economists, many of whom describe themselves as opinionated. Given that, the editors of the volume undoubtedly anticipated and faced a cat-herding problem. Judging by the range of topics represented in the chapters, including some issues and experiences discussed in only one or...

  6. 1 A Decade of Editing the European Economic Review
    (pp. 33-44)
    Zvi Eckstein, Esther Gal-Or, Thorvaldur Gylfason, Jürgen von Hagen and Gerard Pfann

    TheEuropean Economic Review(EER) was launched 1969 as the first research journal that aimed to contribute to the development and application of economics as a science in Europe. As a broad-based professional and international journal, theEERwelcomes submissions of applied and theoretical research papers in all fields of economics. Its aim is to contribute to the development of the science of economics and its applications and to improve communication among academic researchers, teachers, and policy makers across the European continent and beyond. TheEERencourages young researchers to submit their work.

    In late 2002, we were called on...

  7. 2 The Wish List of an Editor: Some Reflections on Editing the Scandinavian Journal of Economics
    (pp. 45-52)
    Richard Friberg

    TheScandinavian Journal of Economics(SJE) was started in 1899. It has gone through a couple of name changes and switched from Swedish to English, but its tradition is unbroken and has been nicely summarized by Mats Persson (1998). About two years ago, Persson called me to discuss something that was too important to deal with over the phone. There was a sense of cloak and dagger, but after we finally found a time to meet, we ended up doing things over the phone after all. Persson asked me if I would be willing to serve as one of three...

  8. 3 Edifying Editing
    (pp. 53-66)
    R. Preston McAfee

    I have spent a considerable amount of time as an editor. I have rejected about 2,500 papers and accepted 200. No one likes a rejection, and fewer than 1 percent of authors consider it justified. Fortunately, there is some duplication across authors, so I have made only around 1,800 enemies.

    The purpose of this chapter is to answer in print the questions I frequently am asked in person. These are my answers, but they may not apply to you.

    When Paul Milgrom recommended me as his replacement as a coeditor of theAmerican Economic Review, a post I held for...

  9. 4 Reflections on Editing the Journal of Finance, 2006 to 2012
    (pp. 67-82)
    Campbell R. Harvey

    If theAmerican Economic Reviewis a fire hose, then theJournal of Financeis a tsunami. In my first year as editor of theJournal, I handled 1,275 manuscripts. If one takes into account papers that are revised and resubmitted, that figure is even larger. Over my six years (2006 to 2012) as editor, I handled approximately 7,500 submissions. Even at the point of my so-called retirement on July 1, 2012, I still had more than five hundred manuscripts under my control. The job does not go away until these manuscripts are settled.

    TheJournal of Financewas founded...

  10. 5 Journals, Editors, Referees, and Authors: Experiences at the Journal of Economic Literature
    (pp. 83-96)
    John Pencavel

    I have been invited to write about my experiences as editor of theJournal of Economic Literature(JEL) and to reflect on what these experiences may mean for the status of journals in intellectual inquiry. I was editor of theJELfor thirteen years from 1986 to 1998. Before becoming editor, for four years, I served as associate editor under the editorial supervision of Moses Abramovitz. After stepping down as editor, I was a member of the board of editors of theJELuntil 2006. Therefore, I was associated with the administration of theJournalfor almost twenty-five years—from...

  11. 6 Memoirs of an Editor
    (pp. 97-118)
    Fabrizio Zilibotti

    I was a managing editor of theReview of Economic Studies(ReStud) from 2002 to 2006. Since 2009, I have been the chief editor of theJournal of European Economic Association (JEEA). Both theReStudandJEEAare nonprofit journals, and they are owned, respectively, by an independent society and by the European Economic Association. In this chapter, I describe some salient aspects of my editorial experiences.

    The invitation to become an editor at theReview of Economic Studiescame largely as a surprise. I had no record of previous editorial experience, had been invited to join the board of...

  12. 7 On Editing the History of Political Economy
    (pp. 121-132)
    Craufurd Goodwin

    Some general-interest journals in economics (such as theAmerican Economic Review, Southern Economic Journal, and Economic Journal) were established by professional associations, and others by prominent universities (for example, theJournal of Political Economy, theQuarterly Journal of Economics, andEconomica). Field journals have emerged typically because specialists believed that their subdisciplines were not getting enough space in the general-interest journals. The journal that I edited from its inception in 1969 until 2010,History of Political Economy, came into existence not for these reasons but to become a hearth around which the beleaguered members of a new subdiscipline, the history...

  13. 8 On Turning Twenty: The Journal of Economics & Management Strategy Comes of Age
    (pp. 135-148)
    Daniel F. Spulber

    As I write this reminiscence, theJournal of Economics & Management Strategy (JEMS )is reaching a milestone: it is turning twenty. It has been a terrific journey thus far, and yet I feel that it is only just beginning. I have had occasion to think about the journal’s beginnings, the many events that have happened over the last two decades, and the things that might lie ahead for the journal.

    Today,JEMSis a leader at the intersection of economics and management. It is widely read around the world. Although it started as a specialty journal, it is becoming...

  14. 9 Reflections on Being a Journal Editor
    (pp. 149-160)
    Lawrence J. White

    Journal editors serve as gate keepers for any academic discipline because journals are important vehicles for the spreading of ideas and information within the discipline. For many disciplines, they provide indicia of the professional standing of faculty at colleges and universities. These characteristics of journals are probably more important for the economics discipline than for some other disciplines because books are less important for economics than for some other disciplines.

    So what does it take to be an editor of an economics journal? What do editors do, and how do they do it? What do they think and feel? What...

  15. 10 The Internal Politics of Journal Editing
    (pp. 163-170)
    William A. Barnett

    I have been invited to write an essay on my experiences as founder and editor of the Cambridge University Press journalMacroeconomic Dynamics. I have decided to focus the essay on my experiences in starting up the journal. Few economists who have not themselves started a new journal are aware of the nature of the process and its sometimes complicated academic politics.

    As is known to many economists, there was a conflict between another well-known journal and its society at around the time that I started upMacroeconomic Dynamics (MD)in 1996 and 1997. The journal was theJournal of...

  16. 11 Reptilian Economists of the World Unite: A Tolerance Manifesto
    (pp. 173-188)
    Richard V. Adkisson

    A graduate school colleague, Les Manns, was prone to refer to certain others in the economics profession as big lizards. We never really discussed the definition ofbig lizard, but the term seemed to refer to economists who were regularly published, held offices in professional organizations, had a reputation beyond the department, and were actively engaged in a community of scholarship. From our graduate student perspective, almost everyone looked like a big lizard. Now that many of us have met the minimal graduate school standards of lizardness, we have seen that whatever our own degree of lizardness, there are always...

  17. 12 Notes from a Second-Line Journal: Suggestions for Authors
    (pp. 191-196)
    Paul H. Rubin and Antony W. Dnes

    One of us has been editor in chief ofManagerial and Decision Economics (MDE )since 1994, and the other has been European coeditor since 2000. It is a fact of life that most of the papers that we receive have been rejected elsewhere. Because the mainline journals in economics and business have very low acceptance rates, on the order of 10 percent or less, many perfectly good papers are rejected, and we know more generally that many truly great papers have been rejected one or more times before being published (Gans and Shepherd 1994). Most of us will spend...

  18. 13 Replication and Reflection: A Decade at the Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking
    (pp. 199-212)
    William G. Dewald and Richard G. Anderson

    In 1975, with reluctance, I accepted the editorship of theJournal of Money, Credit, and Banking (JMCB ),which at the time was the flagship journal in monetary economics and banking. It was founded by Karl Brunner in 1969.¹

    Let me recount how the editorship was offered to me. Karl wanted to take the journal with him to Rochester University when he resigned his Everett D. Reese Chair in Economics and Finance at the Ohio State University, the school’s first endowed chair. I had played a major role in recruiting Karl for that position, and that appointment marked a major...

  19. 14 Epistemic Flagpoles: Economics Journals as Instrumental Rhetoric
    (pp. 215-228)
    Daniel W. Bromley

    Deirdre McCloskey (1983) has made a number of profound contributions to economics. Nothing in her prodigious output can match the masterful article offering clarity on the wordrhetoric. Clarity, however, brought anxiety: “You mean economics is concerned with trying to persuade? Here I thought we were pursuing (and publishing) truth.” But as McCloskey taught us, the essential task in science is to offer the more compelling account. The central purpose driving each of us is to bring others to our side. We do that by convincing them that we have the best story to tell about a particular matter.


  20. 15 Supplying Private Goods and Collective Goods at Public Choice
    (pp. 231-248)
    William F. Shughart II

    Public Choice, under the titlePapers on Non-Market Decision Making, was launched at the University of Virginia (UVA) by Gordon Tullock in 1966 (Rowley and Houser 2012, 16). Apparently at the suggestion of William C. Mitchell (Simmons 2011, xiii), the journal was given its present name in 1969, coincident with the establishment of the Center for Study of Public Choice at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), which reassembled from diaspora a group of former UVA faculty members and graduate students who had scattered to the winds after administrators there had denied Tullock promotion to full professor on...

  21. 16 The Journal of Sports Economics
    (pp. 251-258)
    Leo H. Kahane

    This chapter, I suspect, is distinct from most others in this collection in that I am the editor of a journal and also one of its founders. TheJournal of Sports Economics (JSE)was borne out of a 1997 conversation I had in the hallway at California State University at East Bay.¹ I had just put the finishing touches on my first sports economics paper (Idson and Kahane 2000 ), and I was discussing it with colleague Paul Staudohar, who had been writing in the field for many years. I noted to Paul that with the frequent appearance of sports...

  22. 17 My Experiences as Editor of the Journal of Developing Areas
    (pp. 261-268)
    Abu N. M. Wahid

    An introduction may not be irrelevant for this chapter. When I opened my email on June 13, 2012, I saw that a message had just arrived from Michael Szenberg and was waiting to be opened in my inbox. I was not expecting this email but recognized his name and opened the mail with much interest and enthusiasm. When I started reading the message, I was excited about what Michael had to say, and before I finished reading it, I had decided to accept his invitation to write an essay about my experiences as editor of theJournal of Developing Areas...

  23. 18 Potpourri: Reflections from Husband and Wife Academic Editors
    (pp. 271-280)
    William E. Becker and Suzanne R. Becker

    When we were invited to contribute to this series on experiences of journal editors in academe, Bill said to Suzanne, “I have stories to tell about poor scholarship and the possible demise of economic education as a scholarly activity, and you have stories to tell about dealing with professors, the maiming of the English language, and catching errors.” We have been involved in economic education and the economics of education since 1973 and edited theJournal of Economic Education (JEE )for twenty years from summer 1989 to fall 2009. What follows is a snapshot of some of the more...

  24. 19 Helping the Homeless: Reflections on Editing Journals outside the Mainstream
    (pp. 283-296)
    Geoffrey M. Hodgson

    Some essays in this volume are distillations of the experiences of editors of prominent mainstream journals in economics. By contrast, this article concerns the experiences of an editor of less prestigious publications that might develop the subject in a different direction. Although concerns about rigor and quality are shared, the problems of carving out a space for new ideas in often adverse institutional circumstances are of special concern here. This essay combines reflections about the state of economics with an attempt to draw some lessons from personal experiences with the editing process.

    Mainstream economics has come into a great deal...

  25. 20 Econ Agonistes: Navigating and Surviving the Publishing Process
    (pp. 297-310)
    Steven Pressman

    Let me begin this article with a brief summary of my qualifications. During my career, I have refereed nearly three hundred articles for professional journals and as a journal editor have made decisions on more than a thousand papers. I have edited several symposia and special issues for economics journals and for refereed journals in other disciplines. Since 1989, I have served as associate editor and book review editor of theEastern Economic Journaland since 1995 have served as coeditor of theReview of Political Economy.

    Part of the reason for my success is that when I was just...

  26. 21 Tales from the Editor’s Crypt: Dealing with True, Uncertain, and False Accusations of Plagiarism
    (pp. 311-328)
    J. Barkley Rosser Jr.

    I am writing this in December 2010, my final month as editor of theJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization (JEBO ),having first assumed this position effectively in August 2001.¹ It has been a mostly rewarding experience but has become increasingly time-consuming as submissions have approximately doubled over this period. To handle a substantially increased workload, I have become better at doing things more quickly, and this has been helped by the move from snail mail to the electronic handling of matters. It has been fascinating to see what people submit to the journal and to influence, even if...

  27. 22 An Instructive Case in Referencing, Priority Conflict, and Ethics: The Role of an Editor in a Scholarly Journal
    (pp. 329-334)
    Michael Szenberg

    A story is told of a master who was asked by his young disciple how to proceed in his unquenchable thirst for truth. The teacher did not reply but continued to walk in the field with his assistant in silence until they came to a stream. Suddenly, the teacher seized the student and thrust his head beneath the water, where he held it for several moments. Sputtering and surprised, the student asked the meaning of this. The master replied: “When you want the truth as much as you panted for air, you will find it.”

    It is an editor’s role...

  28. 23 An Editor’s Life at the Journal of Economic Perspectives
    (pp. 335-354)
    Timothy Taylor

    In spring 1984, I was a disgruntled graduate student of the standard make and model on my way to bailing out of Stanford University’s Ph.D. program in economics with what I regarded as a consolation master’s degree. I was clueless about my future career path, except that it seemed clear that my road would not travel through academia. In 1986, I started working as managing editor of theJournal of Economic Perspectives (JEP).In fall 1988, I moved back to Stanford and into an office in the department of economics with my own full-time assistant in the neighboring office. When...

  29. 24 The Journal Editorial Cycle and Practices
    (pp. 357-368)
    Lall B. Ramrattan and Michael Szenberg

    Editors and authors both recognize that way that journals function needs to improve. Scholarly journals are the mainstays of scientific communication, and publication in them by academicians is the primary route to promotion, tenure, salary increases, recognition, and mobility. The scrutiny and assessment of the publication process is therefore of vital concern to the scientific community. The purpose of this volume is to relay editorial insights that will enlighten the academic stakeholders as well as the general public.

    The literature on journal editorial practices is limited. Fritz Machlup (1962, 7) was one of the first to point out the importance...

  30. Contributors
    (pp. 369-372)
  31. Index
    (pp. 373-390)