The Decline of Peer Review
| Dick Langlois |
Glenn Ellison has a paper in the new issue of Economic Inquiry called “Is Peer Review in Decline?” Here’s the abstract.
Over the past decade, there has been a decline in the fraction of papers in top economics journals written by economists from the highest ranked economics departments. This paper documents this fact and uses additional data on publications and citations to assess various potential explanations. Several observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the Internet improves the ability of high profile authors to disseminate their research without going through the traditional peer review process.
An alternative explanation is that the distribution of productivity among departments has gotten flatter, and Ellison can’t definitively reject that possibility. (Luigi Zingales and his coauthors had argued that the Internet has reduced the advantages for productivity of being at a top university.) But the explanation Ellison favors has to do with the increasing costs of the review process, especially at top field journals, where editors (he claims) have been increasingly demanding revisions. Because the costs of the review process are high and the benefits modest for prestigious authors, they increasingly avoid these journals.