The JPE is going monthly in 2020

Here is the announcement.  Presumably they wish to claw back some of the quantity going to the ever-multiplying number of AEA journals and to thus avoid being an afterthought.  Will the average quality of JPE article decline?  I suppose by one definition it has to, but in such a rapidly specializing discipline, who will notice?  Is it really so clear which pieces come close but don’t quite deserve to belong in the JPE?  I for one could not pass this “blind taste test” in my role as a JPE reader, and I have been following the rag for decades.

As a polar experiment, what if they put out an issue every day, and in essence the top journals took all the published pieces?  Then the notion of having a “top three” hit (or whatever) would dwindle and people actually would have to judge the work.  A modest move in that direction should be just fine, said the daily blogger.

In the meantime, the leading lights of the profession — most of all in the earlier parts of their careers — should be prepared for that much more refereeing.  Ay!


I'll be first and say "publish or perish"!

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I recall a time, long ago, when I would patiently wait for my favorite journals/magazines to arrive in the mail. Today, I need a daily fix. No, an hourly fix. And I don't use social media. I appreciate that the internet has provided access to so much, but the immediacy of it has made us all impatient, and I am afraid choosing quantity over quality. I am impressed that Cowen can produce regular blog posts for us to read. I am more impressed that he doesn't produce more blog posts.

What is Dr. Farmer up to?

They should publish additional tie-in field journals like Econometrica does.

What is going to matter increasingly will be citations, although for tenure decisions probably not enough data so journal ranking s will still dominate. But as one goes to higher levels, it is citations that matter, not journals.

Thing is that publishing a top 5 today is much harder than in the 1970s, even with the increased frequency since the number of PhDs working n economics doubles every 20 years. As result the fraction of papers who get accepted in top 5 journals today is 5%, in around 1975 it was 12%.

The tweet that is linked bothers me.

"Great news! All top 5 should increase their issues to boost acceptance rate. Acceptance rates in the single digits is not a mark of quality, but of exclusivity. Is that the message we want to advocate for our profession?"

Let's say a journal gets 2,000 submissions and publishes 100 papers for a 5% acceptance rate. Next year the journal gets 4,000 submissions because people want to publish there. They should just increase the number of acceptances to 200 to remain a 5% acceptance rate? If they get 10,000 submissions they should accept 500 papers? The acceptance rate isn't a mark of exclusivity, it's a mark of how many people want to publish in a journal versus how many slots the journal has. The practices of the editors might be a mark of exclusivity, favoring certain researchers or schools or types of research over others.

I'm not sure how the JPE thinks this change will help (unless they are going to hold the number of articles constant and just publish more volumes with fewer articles). It will likely hurt the signaling value of a JPE relative to the other top journals. I realize that publishing in the JPE isn't necessarily a signal of quality, but it's at least a signal of something (quality, being "in the club," some combination of the two, etc.). If all the top 5 increased the number of articles they published they might possibly stop being the top 5. People don't seem to realize that what is true today doesn't have to be true tomorrow.

Because everyone needs to qualify their comments ... I don't have any top 5s. I'm unlikely to get any top 5s. Will I try to publish in a top 5 - sure, but my life is fine without it. I do like the signaling value of the top 5s.

I think RafaelR's suggestion about creating an additional outlet is a better suggestion. The AEJs have done well since their creation about a decade ago, without hurting the value of the AER. We'll see how Insights does.

Barkley's suggestion of citations is a dangerous game to play. They work fine as a metric if they aren't the metric; if they are then people just start citing everything. It's like using score differential in sports - if coaches know that differential is explicitly incorporated into a ranking system, then they run up the score when they can and it destroys the value of score differential as a predictive tool.


I do not get your reasoning why if citations are what matters people will just "start citing everything.." It is other people citing your work that matters, not how much you cite others, and if you are suggesting people massively self-cite, well, some systems of counting these remove self-citations. The only way this might sort of work is if you think that by citing others they will cite you, but that is pretty weak.

I also note that journal editors tend not to like overly lengthy bibliographies on papers as part of a general desire to have not overlyi lengthy papers due to page limits for their journals, although that is getting to be less important than it used to be.

Also, frankly, it is citations that count already for higher level appointments such as professorial chairs or even higher such as Nobel Prizes. Quite a few of the key works that have gotten people Nobels have either been in books (which are not supposed to "count" any more) or for papers that appeared in odd and not prestigious outlets, only to go on to become highly cited and influential.

I will grant that some citations are more important than others and there are lots of ways to measure them, but that is getting too complicated here. It does not undo that as one goes to a higher level right now, citations however measured (and h-indexes, which are based on citations) count more than where publications appear, which become almost completely unimportant.

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