The “Market Power” of Top Journals

2 January 2013 at 10:37 am 1 comment

| Peter Klein |

When elite academic journals impose stricter submission requirements, authors comply. When lower-ranked journals impose these restrictions, authors submit elsewhere. Key insight for editors: know your place.

Revealed Preferences for Journals: Evidence from Page Limits
David Card, Stefano DellaVigna
NBER Working Paper No. 18663, December 2012

Academic journals set a variety of policies that affect the supply of new manuscripts. We study the impact of page limit policies adopted by the American Economic Review (AER) in 2008 and the Journal of the European Economic Association (JEEA) in 2009 in response to a substantial increase in the length of articles in economics. We focus the analysis on the decision by potential authors to either shorten a longer manuscript in response to the page limit, or submit to another journal. For the AER we find little indication of a loss of longer papers – instead, authors responded by shortening the text and reformatting their papers. For JEEA, in contrast, we estimate that the page length policy led to nearly complete loss of longer manuscripts. These findings provide a revealed-preference measure of competition between journals and indicate that a top-5 journal has substantial monopoly power over submissions, unlike a journal one notch below. At both journals we find that longer papers were more likely to receive a revise and resubmit verdict prior to page limits, suggesting that the loss of longer papers may have had a detrimental effect on quality at JEEA. Despite a modest impact of the AER’s policy on the average length of submissions (-5%), the policy had little or no effect on the length of final accepted manuscripts. Our results highlight the importance of evaluating editorial policies.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Institutions, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science. Tags: .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Peter Klein  |  3 January 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Hmmm, just received this from Management Science:

    “A new page limit policy. While papers should always be written succinctly and never longer than useful, we also want to ensure that Management Science is a desirable outlet for the very best work. Hence, initial submissions no longer have to adhere to a page limit. Revisions must be 47 pages or fewer (with double spacing) or 36 pages or fewer (with 1.5 spacing). The previous limit was 32 pages (with 1.5 spacing).”

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