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Publishing and Promotion in Economics: The Tyranny of the Top Five

Author

Listed:
  • James J. Heckman

    (The University of Chicago)

  • Sidharth Moktan

    (Center for the Economics of Human Development, University of Chicago)

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between placement of publications in Top Five (T5) journals and receipt of tenure in academic economics departments. Analyzing the job histories of tenure-track economists hired by the top 35 U.S. economics departments, we find that T5 publications have a powerful influence on tenure decisions and rates of transition to tenure. A survey of the perceptions of young economists supports the formal statistical analysis. Pursuit of T5 publications has become the obsession of the next generation of economists. However, the T5 screen is far from reliable. A substantial share of influential publications appear in non-T5 outlets. Reliance on the T5 to screen talent incentivizes careerism over creativity.

Suggested Citation

  • James J. Heckman & Sidharth Moktan, 2018. "Publishing and Promotion in Economics: The Tyranny of the Top Five," Working Papers 2018-070, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2018-070
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    tenure and promotion practices; career concerns; economics publishing; citations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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