Saturday, November 21, 2009

Journals are dead

You way have noticed that I have not reported about a journal article on this blog for months. In fact, it has been a while since I last opened a journal. Should I take this as a sign that journals have become irrelevant?

It is true that journals are considerably lagging behind the research frontier, at least in Economics. Our working paper culture makes that you rely on such pre-publications to keep up with what is going on. In other fields, conferences is the place to go to stay current. Journals are then just a confirmation about your evaluation of your readings. In this regard, I am eager to see how the papers I discuss here will be published (see the IDEAS reading list for this blog).

But back to the topic. Why do we keep insisting on sending our papers to journals and suffer through the tyranny of referees who cannot appreciate our work or just have personal agendas? We can get the recognition we need from citations, especially now that RePEc does citation analysis from working papers, much faster than ISI could ever do. Unfortunately, tenure and promotion committees want to see peer-reviewed publications, because of inertia.

And what if blogs like mine could take the role of peer review? They establish a reputation, and then (positive) mentions can become an asset. But for this to happen, we need more blogs like that, and especially more specialized ones that can better dissect papers. And we need more readership so that research blogs actually get a chance at become reputable. From what I see from my readership and the amounts of comments, we still have a way to go, although some others listed at Econ Academics (link corrected) appear more successful.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now I'm curious - how many hits do you get here? There is very little commenting, that's true. But I look at your blog every day.

Vilfredo said...

You are so right. I barely read journals, and when I fail to get access to a journal article because my library has fewer and fewer subscriptions, I usually find a working paper version on IDEAS and I am perfectly happy with that.

Anonymous said...

Well, if you are to do a good review of a paper then it's probably easiest to do papers that you've read for your own work or classes, but doesn't that make it more likely that your anonymity be in danger?

Also, the Economic Logician must be at a top 10 school. Only there people would dare scoff at journals. Everyone else lives and dies by having at least a couple of articles published in top 10 journals.

Anonymous said...

I second the first Anonymous at 7:52 (this is the second Anonymous at 8:07)!

Your posts are authoritative so there's little that comments could add, so we usually don't comment.

If you want comments, call a visible econ blogger a leftist/rightist f-ckwad or something like that.

Vilfredo said...

He/she sent a few lobs to Mankiw and Krugman, but in a civil manner...

Kansan said...

Well, for once, we got a discussion going, and it shows that there is a readership.

Christian Zimmermann said...

I want to echo here that blogs could lead the way in new peer review models. Econ Academics offers a handy way to find the few blogs at this time that offer something like what is described here.

I wish to add that some NEP editors have started blogging about the best weekly papers in their field. Currently covered are Interntational Trade, Open Macroeconomics and Dynamic General Equilibrium. More may follow, and links are on Econ Academics.

Anonymous said...

Some law professors have started a blog on similar grounds to what you are discussing here.

Jotwell

The problem I have with there project is that they are not very critical. It generally seems they are just complimenting each other and not really analyzing the results or applications of the paper.

Labor economist said...

You must be tenured and set. We still need to publish and get recognized, and with the current culture this happens through journals. And whether those journals actually get read is not relevant to the question, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

Your tenured and set logician couldn't even get the webaddress of Econ Academics correct. It is now reading as econadacemics.org.

Chris Leonard said...

I just posted about the possibility of some form of peer review taking place outside of the journal - with the object under review not necessarily being in a journal either, although not for a few years yet I think. Interested on your views.

http://virtualchrisleonard.co.uk/blog/

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