Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tyranny of the Top 5 Econ Journals

Check out:

PUBLISHING AND PROMOTION IN ECONOMICS: THE TYRANNY OF THE TOP FIVE 
by
James J. Heckman and Sidharth Moktan 
NBER Working Paper 25093
http://www.nber.org/papers/w25093

Heckman et al. examine a range of data from a variety of perspectives, analyze them thoroughly, and pull no punches in describing their striking results.

It's a great paper. There's a lot I could add, maybe in a future post, but my blood pressure is already high enough for today. So I'll just leave you with a few choice quotes from the paper ["T5" means "top-5 economics journals" ]:

"The results ... support the hypothesis that the T5 influence operates through channels that are independent of article quality."

"Reliance on the T5 to screen talent incentivizes careerism over creativity."

"Economists at highly ranked departments with established reputations are increasingly not publishing in T5 or field journals and more often post papers online in influential working paper series, which are highly cited, but not counted as T5s."

"Many non-T5 articles are better cited than many articles in T5 journals. ...  Indeed, many of the most important papers published in the past 50 years have been too innovative to survive the T5 gauntlet."

"The [list of] most cited non-T5 papers reads like an honor roll of economic analysis."

"The T5 ignores publication of books. Becker’s Human Capital
(1964) has more than 4 times the number of citations of any paper listed on RePEc. The exclusion of books from citation warps incentives against broad and integrated research and towards writing bite-sized fragments of ideas."