Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Article of the Future

The standard format for academic journal articles is pretty much "tried and true": Abstract; Introduction; Methodology; Data; Results; Conclusions. There are variations on this. of course, depending on the discipline in question. When it comes to journals that publish research in econometrics, it's difficult to think of innovations that have taken advantage of developments in technology in the past few years.

O.K., so you can follow your favourite journal on Twitter or Facebook - but when you get to the articles themselves, do they look that much different from, say, ten years ago? Not really.

You'd think that econometrics journals could be a bit more exciting. The content is always a blast, of course, but what about the way it's presented? Apart from moving from paper to pdf files, we haven't really come that far. Yes, in many cases you get hyperlinks to the articles listed in the References section, which is fine and dandy. But is that enough?

When we undertake the research that leads to the articles we use all sorts of data analysis and graphical tools, whichever econometric or statistical software we're wedded to. Yet, these powerful tools are left pretty much on the sideline when it comes to disseminating the information through the traditional peer-reviewed outlets.

Are there any glimmers of hope on the horizon?

In a recent electronic issue of their Editors' Update newsletter, the publishing company, Elsevier, discussed their so-called "Article of the Future" Project. It's worth looking at. In particular, it could get you thinking about how we can raise the bar a little when it comes to publishing new research results in econometrics. For example, see the interactive graphics in the "Fun With F1" article.

A lot of us have some pretty strong views about the pricing policies of academic journals, and about the extent to which the flow of scientific information should be commercialized. I have no affiliation with this particular publisher, but it's refreshing to see what they're up to in this regard. Hopefully there's more of this going on elsewhere.

© 2011, David E. Giles