Economists don’t like admitting to publishing in lower-quality outlets


"Image is everything" - for economists.

Bonus trivia: our own TC was voted sexiest man a while ago by some Italian magazine!

The supreme irony here is that the above-referred paper was not published in a top journal. (With "top" defined as top 100:

People keep saying this is ironic, but I have no idea why? Do they think this pub will help the author’s careers much more than the experiment would suggest? That seems unlikely. As much as economists enjoy a good bit of navel gazing, those papers probably don’t help much for promotion or outside offers.

On their own web sites with links to purchase their books, however ....

just google "tyler cowen economics" and the 1st result is MR. bloomberg, amazon, and GMU sites are way below in the ranking. since this site gets more traffic than the others, why not put the links here?

I believe that economists place more importance on a candidates' PhD program rank than other disciplines do. This may be because compared to other social sciences, economics has a more dominant paradigm and so there's less concern about getting representatives from different schools of thought or alternative paradigms, and more on just getting the best scholar.

And this may carry over to evaluating publications as well. Most economists would have decent agreement with any standard ranking of the most prestigious economics journals, again because there's pretty much one dominant paradigm and relatively little credit for publishing in the best radical journal, the best Austrian journal, etc.

So I conjecture that is the explanation for what the article observes: economists want to see how many articles you've published in AER, JPE, QJE, etc. etc. and know that the articles published in lesser journals are going to be of minor interest and importance.

It's easier for economists to decide on a standard of quality, for both candidates and publications, because there's relatively high agreement to use the neoclassical standard. Other social sciences are more fragmented and fractured.

The Snob characteristics of academics are amazing. I have seen crap articles in top-rated journals like Science and found some really interesting data in second and third rated journals. We are talking about overlapping distributions which only gives minor information on the probability of an article being true or useful relative to the actual article.

I am in the real sciences and even a third-rate journal can have solid and useful data and information and will publish items with smaller niche markets or less popular ideas. It is easier to get junk published, but even PNAS and Science have their PC problems of publishing advocacy junk science. Science just had their major editorial on some fraudulent and false advocacy science on plastics and larval fish that got past their reviewers and whistleblowers spilled the beans. Third rate journals heavy in larval fish research could have had reviewers (with heavy larval fish experience -- killed their million larvae) who could have picked up on the fraud.

But the paper has one group of CVs with high-quality publications and the other with both high-quality and low-quality publications. They didn't test for whether low-quality publications lift the status of people without anything else. So Healy's comment about leaving it off their CVs assumes that they all have high-quality stuff on their CVs.

Correct, the issue is only relevant to people at research-oriented universities. Most professors at teaching colleges probably have never published in the major journals; for them (and their departments) the way to measure research productivity is going to be different from measuring a prof at say Stanford.

But when we're talking about say comparing the faculty at Stanford to the faculty at Chicago, then I suspect that most economists put little weight on the publications at lesser journals and much more on the major journals. (However Barkley Rosser is correct that if we're taking a really close look at someone, then we care about citations and "impact" and we pay less attention to the quality of the journal where the research was published.)

I bet this applies to most resumes.

A lot of this depends on the level. At hiring grad school rep is important, although pubs get looked at with focus on being in highly ranked journals, especially "top five" (and especially at most R1 grad programs). This latter focus still holds for people going up for tenure, and even sometimes for full prof, as well going on job market at mid-career times.

But as one moves up, full prof at many places and especially chaired professorships and even more the top prizes such as JB Clark and even more so the Nobel, it is citations, not where things are published that matter. So, while he probably won't get it, although he is clearly on the A-list, if just retiring 92-year old Richard Easterlin gets the Nobel, it will be for a 1974 book chapter he could not get published in a journal, the heavily cited paper that founded "happiness economics."

Tyler shares with me the distinction of having lots of his citations coming from his books, which these days supposedly "do not count" (although better than book chapters). I have the odd experience that several of my most cited articles are in thoroughly obscure journals (one of them is the most cited paper ever published in the journal), while several of my papers in more prestigious journals are much less cited. There are some economists who take me "seriously" because I published in the Journal of Economic Theory back in 1983, but that paper has been cited only 13 times.

Would you be in the same place career wise if you had the same number of cites, but your most cited articles were in the AER or QJE? Would your outside options be the same?

BTW, of course I am notoriously a complete wierdo in terms of my academic career, so nobody should take me as an example of much of anything, :-).

BTW, I just checked, and another thing Tyler and I share is that neither of us has a general Google Scholar citation list up, so my comment about us both having lots of our citations for our books is not easily verified. As it is, I would guess that he is even more heavily in that direction (most of his citations to his books) than I am simply because I am reasonably certain he has written more of them than I have and they have gotten more widespread public attention than have mine.

It is unfortunate because some very important and innovative work has appeared first in low-ranked journals (Richard Thaler and John List come to mind). This also means researchers are discouraged from publishing with students or publishing interdisciplinary work.

All in al, very narrow-minded and elitist...

In the cases of both Thaler and List their early influential papers were published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization (JEBO), which I edited for a decade, although after their groundbreaking papers were published. In Thaler's case it was his paper on mental accounting, mentioned in his Nobel award. List has not gotten a Nobel (yet), but many think he will, and if he does at the top of the list [sic] will be his first paper on a field experiment (coauthored with Jason Shogren), published in JEBO in the mid-90s.

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