Publishing and Measuring Success in Economics

Sebastian Galiani, Ugo Panizza 28 September 2020

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In a biographical essay published before receiving the Nobel Prize, Angus Deaton wrote that compared with many other professions, economics is remarkably open to talent, and free of nepotism and patronage. This perception of openness is now being questioned by many who are pointing out that economics tends to be hierarchical, clubby and characterised by gender and racial biases.

The publication process in economics also appears to be inefficient as it is characterised by long publication lags. Moreover, several of the contributions in this eBook suggest that the profession gives excessive weight to a very small number of journals, and that this large weight is not fully justified by citation patterns. As one of the contributors points out, “economists believe in markets, but not for papers”.

The eBook takes stock of these issues with a series of short essays focusing on how economists publish their research and measure academic success. It includes sections on measuring success and citation patterns, publication lags, social ties and nepotism, the race problem in economics, and how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted economic research.

The contributions suggest that, while there is much to be proud of about the state of the economics profession, there is still work to be done to make economics more open and inclusive and the publication process fairer and more efficient. Promoting stronger competition among journals could help in dealing with many, though not all, of the issues highlighted in the eBook.

Professor of Economics, University of Maryland

Professor of Economics and Pictet Chair at the Graduate Institute, Geneva; CEPR Vice president and Research Fellow

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