Via Michael Makowsky, there is a new and extremely useful paper by Chetty, Saez, and Sandor in “slides” form (pdf). Their conclusions include these:
1. Short deadlines for referees are extremely effective at increasing speed.
2. Cash incentives can generate significant improvements with salient reminders right before a deadline.
3. Even light social incentives, such as direct prods from an editor, can bring significant benefits.
More broadly, at least in this context cash incentives work, they do not displace social incentives, and attention really matters as do “nudges.”