Thursday, December 04, 2008

A morning thought on peer-review

Good journals in Economics (say top 15) typically have good referees (though it also depends on who the Editor in that particular case is and especially on how much effort he is putting in picking the referees; sometimes you have the feeling they expressly choose folks who really seem to have no expertise whatsoever in your area).

The serious problem starts as soon as you go somewhat downwards in the journal rankings (why would you do ever do that? well, for instance because you yourself would feel like rejecting that particular paper of yours at higher ranked journals...): the quality of the referees decreases more than ten fold for each position in the journal hierarchy (abstract for a moment from the fact that not everybody agrees with the existent hierarchies, though most serious people agree to the 10 or so top journals). I am not sure whether this is due to good people always refusing to referee for those lower-ranked journals or to the Editor choosing lower quality referees to start with (which could be surely linked to the former reason). Of course this sort of discussion is not new (see also a previous post where I linked to interesting perspectives on this), it is just frustrating when you experience it yourself...

What to do? Write only papers that can make it in top 5... and hope you do not get very stubborn Editors and referees there, which is a less desired side-effect... After all you do want your, not somebody else's, paper published. All in all, you do not have any chance of getting bored in this research-and-publish business :-).

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