Model Building versus Theorizing: The Paucity of Theory in the _Journal of Economic Theory_
Drawing on the work of people with strong mainstream reputations, we distinguish model and theory. We argue that a model may qualify as theory only if it purports to answer three questions: Theory of what?, Why should we care?, What merit in your explanation? We examine the 66 regular articles appearing in the 2004 issues of Journal of Economic Theoryâ€”â€œthe leading journal in economic theoryâ€ â€”and apply the three requirements. We make the assessment accountable by formulating six subtests and recording our scores in a detailed spreadsheet linked as an appendix; anyone may spot-check the spreadsheet to see if an article was scored unfairly. We find that 27 articles fail the first test (Theory of what?) and 58 articles fail at least one of the three requirements. Thus, 88 percent of the articles do not qualify as theory. (The â€œpassâ€ rates would be even lower if one were to exclude the special issue, and if one were to include the short notes.) We contend that the journalâ€™s claim to scientific status is doubtful, as well as the very title of the journal. A truer title would be, Journal of Economic Model Building. More generally, we challenge calling model building â€œtheory.â€
Volume (Year): 4 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Enterprise Hall, Room 354, 4400 University Drive, 3G4 Fairfax, VA 22030|
Phone: (703) 993-1151
Web page: https://econjwatch.org/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Philip R. P. Coelho & James E. McClure, 2005. "Theory versus Application: Does Complexity Crowd Out Evidence?," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 556-565, January.
- McCloskey,Deirdre N., 1994. "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521436038, August.
- Warren C. Gibson, 2005. "The Mathematical Romance: An Engineer's View of Mathematical Economics," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 2(1), pages 149-158, April.
- Grubel, Herbert G & Boland, Lawrence A, 1986. "On the Efficient Use of Mathematics in Economics: Some Theory, Facts and Results of an Opinion Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(3), pages 419-442.
- William L. Davis, 2004. "Preference Falsification in the Economics Profession," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 1(2), pages 359-368, August.
- Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521415019, August.
- David Colander, 1995. "The Stories We Tell: A Reconsideration of AS/AD Analysis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 169-188, Summer.
- Mary Morgan, 2001. "Models, stories and the economic world," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 361-384.
- McCloskey,Deirdre N., 1994. "Knowledge and Persuasion in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521434751, August.
- George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
- Hausman,Daniel M., 1992. "The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521425230, August.
- Simon Newcomb, 1893. "The Problem of Economic Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(4), pages 375-399.
- S. M. Macvane, 1895. "The Economists and the Public," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 132-150.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ejw:journl:v:4:y:2007:i:2:p:241-271. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jason Briggeman)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.