Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Refereeing Process in Economics Journals

The peer-review process is an essential part of academic publishing. We use it in the hope of ensuring the honesty, novelty, importance, and timeliness of published research. The selection of (usually anonymous) referees by a representative of the journal to which a research paper has been submitted for consideration, and the preparation of the reports/reviews by those referees, are key steps in the overall process of the dissemination of research results.

There are several different "models" when it comes to the refereeing, or peer-review process. Some of these have been described and compared recently, and in detail, here. It's also interesting to note that peer-reviewing is actually a relatively recent phenomenon in most academic disciplines.

There's no doubt that a well-crafted referee's report is a blessing - to both the recipient author and the handling Editor/Associate Editor/Editorial Board member who's looking to that report for an informed basis for making an editorial decision.

Unfortunately, such reports are not necessarily the norm in Economics/Econometrics - more on this below!

I know this is so, all too well - not only from the times when, as an author, I've been "on the receiving end" of some decidedly unhelpful reports; but also (and much more importantly) from my experiences on the other side of the fence, as a "handling editor" for a quite a number of economics, econometrics, and statistics journals.

Some would say that the academic publishing process is a bit of a crap-shoot. At times, I think that there's some truth to that. However, there's a great deal that both authors and referees can do to make the exercise more rational.