Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An Extreme Publication Lag

We all complain about the delays associated with the academic publishing process. The referees can be very slow in reaching their recommendations; the revisions sometimes seem to be interminable; and then the accepted paper sits in a long queue awaiting its grand entry onto the world stage.

Occasionally - very occasionally - we encounter an extreme outlier in this process. I seem to recall that there was a paper by Paul Samuelson, written in the 1940's, that eventually appeared in print some decades later.

Olav Bjerkholt has kindly drawn my attention to an exceptional econometric example of delayed publication, involving an important paper by one of our founding fathers - Trygve Haavelmo. (Olav has written extensively and authoritatively on the early history of econometrics, and I've mentioned some of his contributions previously - here, and here.)

Now, what about this publishing delay?

The paper in question is titled "Structural Models and Econometrics", and it was presented at the 16th European Meeting of the Econometric Society, held in Uppsala in 1954. Never published previously, it is now "in press" at the journal, Econometric Theory! Let me hasten to note that this sixty-year time-lapse should not be seen to reflect poorly on ET, which has an exemplary editorial record.

The background description of this historically important paper, and its origin, can be accessed here.

Two related papers on causal modelling are also "in press" at ET - one by James Heckman and Rodrigo Pinto (here); and one by Judea Pearl (here). All of these papers will appear in print next year, in a Trygve Haavelmo Memorial Issue of ET.

I guess the publication of Haavelmo's paper is one for the (econometric) record books! I wonder what he would have made of all of this?

© 2014, David E. Giles

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