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September 25, 2007



I think the length of refereeing process has reached shameful proportions. I have 3 articles under review and still waiting for the first round comments. It has been 8 months since submission for the first article and 6 months for the other two.

I understand the moral hazard issues involved in the process but I still think that a good editorial team could go a long way towards solving these practices. A 3-month deadline for the referee to turn in a report is more than enough. If not, than may be blacklisting could work.

Jeff Berens

The “early reject” system might also increase the quantity of submissions and decrease the average quality of submissions.

The “early reject” makes submitting papers less “costly” by reducing the likelihood that your paper will sit on a referee’s desk for a long time only to be eventually rejected. Since you “[early] reject a relatively high share of submissions [deemed] very unlikely to make it,” authors who think their papers might be in this category are now more likely to submit to your journal – you’ve lowered the cost of rejection. In the old system, they might have just tried to publish somewhere with a lower reputation first.

-Loyal reader/first time commenter

Dani Rodrik


We do have a submission fee, which we take regardless of outcome.


Dropping slow reviewers from the referee list might not be an incentive, but banning consistently late reviewers from even publishing in that journal for a period might work. Since a lot of journals are under any given publisher, some cooperation could create a new norm. Imagine being banned from every single Elsevier journal for two years.

Interminable revise-and-resubmit rounds don't help, either. Reviewers need to understand that they are not coauthors.

I can sympathise. I have just had a revise-and-resubmit from a journal that took over ten months to reply. One of the reviewers complained that we hadn't cited a couple of 2007 papers. Bit of an ask since we submitted in 2006. I think some reviewers just never respond.


nice airing
of the laundry dani


here's a test for the brave
free marketers out there
into the beauty and optimality
self organizing systems
what a moment

a chance to start
the economics world anew

just throw your papers onto the webo
and let the word get around ...eh ?

test the networks flatlander powers of transmission

hierarchy is for
head priests
and generalissimos

true believers
in the open market
need no temples

soon enough
fishers of men
will catch the good stuff
from the good sources
and ophra it

find the top one hundred
published guys
to test their beliefs


I commented on this elsewhere, so I won't repeat all my points.

In physics there are journals like Physical Review Letters which have very tight restrictions on submissions. The trade off is rapid publication.

The most important of these is a hard limit on length (three pages) and a judgment on novelty and timeliness. The editors do some preliminary screening and referees also have a turn around requirement.

I think the fear of getting too many papers to review is easily solved, all that is required is to state as policy that no one will get more than X papers in a year.

It might be useful to discuss how things work out at Physical Review (including letters) the editors have been at this for a long time and love to talk about their craft.

Barkley Rosser

(from an internet cafe in Ancona, Italy)

Just for the record. When I took over editing JEBO six years ago, we were receiving one submission per day, roughly, and the norm I inherited from my predecessor was to reject about 20% upfront. Now we get about 2 1/2 submissions per day, and I have raised the upfront rejection rate to about 50%. The few people who complain tend to be either very junior, probably first time submitters anywhere, or pompous big cheese assholes.

BTW, the idea of a ban on submitting to a publisher at all for a period of time is a good suggestion. That might actually work.


Barkley Rosser
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization


the early rejection idea is the best. using long waiting periods as a way to increase submission cost runs into the problem that often one doesn't know the perceived quality of the paper. Even papers that are received well at quality seminars and conferences can have reviewers see them very differently. and vice versa. One of the aims of the review process should be to sort papers, you can't expect authors to that well themselves.


the deaf adders hiss
but hear not
the call of the wild

in this case
a free free market
in econ con papers
no digital gates
no enclosures
just fling it out there
let each name be its brand

on line prize committees
could replace

catch of the day
massive specialization of sites etc

merchants of the memes
themselves more like disc jockeys then
judges in robes

the antiquated buggy whip editorial peer review
needs its pants pulled down in public

what a sham

err for their own
professional advancement mechanism
is it really the case
better to stick
with a super charged
update of an esssentially
17th century invention

the scientific journal ????


guys don't any of you want to cut out
the publishers ??

a peer review team could as easily become a prize awarding team

f the pub caps

take it all into
your own hands


After further reflection: The idea of a long waiting time as a deterrent has yet another flaw. The existence of working paper series with good reputations means that papers can still get cited even while they are sitting in review or waiting to be revised.

Some WP series (e.g. those from central banks) go through a rigorous peer or management review process before even coming out as a working/discussion paper. But I don't think this happens in the NBER or CEPR series. So there are well-known authors whose papers never seem to come out in journals, but they get cited anyway as the NBER paper. This seems an unreasonable privilege of NBER membership. Nobody citing a paper reviews it as carefully as they would as a reviewer for a journal. So flawed papers will nonetheless get cited, if the author is well-known and/or working on a hot topic.



the hideous word


is for mental
boy scouts

please for the sake
of nothing more
then your own
mind's bright weather

examin your motives
your implied worship at that words temple

when tempted i suggest
u substitute
gauntlet instead

Damien Eldridge

Given the long delays from submission to eventual publication, it is not surprising that people cite recent working papers.


This is perhaps less of a concern in economics, except maybe in areas concerned directly with public policy, but the long review times in Organization Studies is clearly having an "abstracting effect" on the topics published.

It's gradually less and less worthwhile attempting to research something and publish it on a timescale that could affect the real world. The review process is turning into lead times of a year or so. At that point, if you're going to publish, it better be something heavily theoretical and systematised so that it's valuable even though the world has moved on.

The difficulty there is that all sorts of research has been pushed to "working paper presentations" and the system of literature search is slowly breaking down. It's less and less worth publishing case studies, so if you go looking for past evidence on an issue, all you'll find are summary theory articles.

Finally, of course, after a few years of this, the "hot issues" in Organization research are about 3-5 years behind realities on the ground. That's not a good thing, either.


when I said "rigorous"
I was of course being kind

The word that fits best
Would be like
calling your name

I didn't want to admit
how much I know



I submitted my paper to a journal in 2007. The first revision took 9 months, the decision was revise and resubmit. There were four referees in the process. The second revision took 3 months, and, thanks to the tracking proceedure online, I was able to see that 2 referees replied within a week, and others took all of the remaining time to reply. The answer was a rejection. I understand that perhaps in the first round they decided to give my paper a chance and that somehow I did not manage to grasp it; but I clearly would have prefered an early rejection to such a waste of time. This is especially sad as I am a recent graduate, and publications count enormously when applying for work to certain institutions.

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