Four new economics journals, or Devaluing the currency can be a good thing

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!

2 thoughts on “Four new economics journals, or Devaluing the currency can be a good thing

  1. I agree that "conversations about whether papers are "base hits" or "home runs." are silly. It's hard to know what the significance of a piece of research may be in the long run. There are so many examples of research that has been done, is ignored or resisted by the consensus for years, and then turns out to be very important. One of my favorite examples of this is the work of Georg Cantor on set theory.

  2. Presumably the job of editor carries an upside of fame, fortune and increased influence within one's field. And (innocent look here) how hard could it be?

Comments are closed.