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The Slowdown of the Economics Publishing Process

  • Glenn Ellison

Over the last three decades there has been a dramatic increase in the length of time necessary to publish a paper in a top economics journal. This paper documents the slowdown and notes that a substantial part is due to an increasing tendency of journals to require that papers be extensively revised prior to acceptance. A variety of potential explanations for the slowdown are considered: simple cost and benefit arguments; a democratization of the publishing process; increases in the complexity of papers; the growth of the profession; and an evolution of preferences for different aspects of paper quality. Various time series are examined for evidence that the economics profession has changed along these dimensions. Paper-level data on review times is used to assess connections between underlying changes in the profession and changes in the review process. It is difficult to attribute much of the slowdown to observable changes in the economics profession. Evolving social norms may play a role.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7804.

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Date of creation: Jul 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Ellison, Glenn. "The Slowdown Of The Economics Publishing Process," Journal of Political Economy, 2002, v110(5,Oct), 947-993.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7804
Note: IO PR
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  1. John J. Siegfried, 1998. "Who Is a Member of the AEA?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 211-222, Spring.
  2. Glenn Ellison, 2002. "Evolving Standards for Academic Publishing: A q-r Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 994-1034, October.
  3. Scott Stern & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1998. "Empirical Implications of Physician Authority in Pharmaceutical Decisionmaking," NBER Working Papers 6851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1994. "Facts and Myths about Refereeing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 153-163, Winter.
  5. Ellison, Glenn & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Geographic Concentration in U.S. Manufacturing Industries: A Dartboard Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(5), pages 889-927, October.
  6. Siegfried, John J., 1994. "Trends in institutional affiliation of authors who publish in the three leading general interest economics journals," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 375-386.
  7. Yohe, Gary W, 1980. "Current Publication Lags in Economics Journals," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 1050-55, September.
  8. John Hudson, 1996. "Trends in Multi-authored Papers in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 153-158, Summer.
  9. Sauer, Raymond D, 1988. "Estimates of the Returns to Quality and Coauthorship in Economic Academia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 855-66, August.
  10. Laband, David N, 1990. "Is There Value-Added from the Review Process in Economics? Preliminary Evidence from Authors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 341-52, May.
  11. Laband, David N & Piette, Michael J, 1994. "Favoritism versus Search for Good Papers: Empirical Evidence Regarding the Behavior of Journal Editors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 194-203, February.
  12. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  13. Colander, David, 1989. "Research on the Economics Profession," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 137-48, Fall.
  14. Sharon M. Oster & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1998. "Aging And Productivity Among Economists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 154-156, February.
  15. Trivedi, Pravin K, 1993. "An Analysis of Publication Lags in Econometrics," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 93-100, Jan.-Marc.
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