Tyler Cowen reports that the American Economic Association is introducing four new journals, which presumably will instantly be “top-tier.” Cowen writes, “Overall I consider this bad news. It expands the career-making power of one professional association and the editors it nominates. It further encourages overspecialization, and discourages general interest research. . . .”
My first impression is the opposite.
Compared to statistics (the academic field I know best), economics seems to have a real bottleneck problem, with many people writing papers (lots more economists than statisticians) but fewer top journals. The result seems to be a huge amount of competition, which is perhaps inherent to economists (see here, for example). Now maybe this has good features, for example, people work harder to make their papers better, knowing that acceptance in a top journal is so difficult. But I’m more worried about the arbitrariness of the selection of papers and the silly (to me) conversations about whether papers are “base hits” or “home runs.” Increasing the number of top journals and thus devaluing the currency should help, I think.
What really impresses me is that they got 4 people to edit these journals. That’s a lot of work!