Erin Hengel, 22 December 2017

When evaluated by narrowly defined quality measures, women are often found to outperform men. This column uses an analysis of almost 10,000 articles in top economics journals to show that one area where this is the case is clarity of writing. Tougher editorial standards and/or biased referee assignment may force women to write better, and may also reduce their productivity.

Raj Chetty, Emmanuel Saez, László Sándor, 11 August 2014

Peer review is at the heart of academic economics, but there are few professional rewards for submitting detailed referee reports on time. This column reports the results from an experimental study of referee motivation. Shorter deadlines ‘nudged’ referees to submit reports earlier. Cash incentives also reduced turnaround times, suggesting that any ‘crowding out’ of intrinsic motivation is small. Social incentives – publication of turnaround times – were more effective for tenured referees than shorter deadlines or cash incentives.

Graziella Bertocchi, Alfonso Gambardella, Tullio Jappelli, Carmela Nappi, Franco Peracchi, 28 July 2014

Assessing the quality of academic research is important – particularly in countries where universities receive most of their funding from the government. This column presents evidence from an Italian research assessment exercise. Bibliometric analysis – based on the journal in which a paper was published and its number of citations – produced very similar evaluations of research quality to informed peer review. Since bibliometric analysis is less costly, it can be used to monitor research on a more continuous basis and to predict the outcome of future peer-reviewed assessments.

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