R. Preston McAfee (a great choice) is the new editor, and he writes in a mass email today:
insidious, in my view, is the gradual morphing of the referees from
evaluators to anonymous co-authors. Referees request increasingly
extensive revisions. Usually these represent improvements, but the
process takes a lot of time and effort, and the end result is often
worse owing to its committee-design. Authors, knowing referees will
make them rewrite the paper, are sometimes sloppy with the submission.
This feedback loop – submitting a sloppy paper since referees will
require rewriting combined with a need to fix all the sloppiness – has
led to our current misery. Moreover, the expectation that referees will
rewrite papers, combined with sloppy submissions, makes refereeing
extraordinarily unpleasant. We – the efficiency-obsessed academic
discipline – have the least efficient publication process.
The system is broken.
Inquiry is starting an experiment. In this experiment, an author can
submit under a ‘no revisions’ policy. This policy means exactly what
it says: if you submit under no revisions, I (or the co-editor) will
either accept or reject. What will not happen is a request for a
will ask referees: ‘is it better for Economic Inquiry to publish the
paper as is, versus reject it, and why or why not?’ This policy returns
referees to their role of evaluator. There will still be anonymous
who receive an acceptance would have the option of publishing without
changes. If a referee noticed a minor problem and put it in the report,
self-respecting authors would fix the problem. But such fixes would not
be a condition of publication.
You could try dating women on this basis as well; we’ll see how it goes. Elsewhere in the world of journals, Science is ending its link to JSTOR, a sad moment for scholarship.