Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How did online journals change the economics literature?

Scientific publication is not the same as it was, now that we can easily access the literature over the Internet. No more trips to the library, much fewer waits for interlibrary loans, and no more chasing who took or misplaced the volume in the racks. But did all this change anything in the way we publish our results?

This is what Timo Boppart and Kevin E. Staub study by looking at the diversity of topics covered in journals and how the availability of on-line publication would have changed that. The idea is that on-line publication allows to discover and read more material, and one may in particular stray away from the usual topics. No doubt about that. But I wonder why Boppart and Straub have this focus on journals. After all, working papers is where its at in Economics, and journal readership has not really increased, I believe. The treatment variable is the share of cited articles available on-line the year before publication. This seems so wrong. There is no way it takes only one year from the literature search to the print issue. Not in Economics, where I would say it is a minimum three years, with really rare cases below that. In fact, a good share of mine took more than a year from final acceptance to actual publication. Then, what about working papers? This is what people read, not articles.


Vilfredo said...

They seem to have a rather naive understanding of the publishing process. As they are from Zurich, is Bruno Frey involved again?

Anonymous said...

The authors write in section 4:

"Given the heterogeneity in publication process length, it
would be worrisome to find that the results in Table 1 hold only under the one year
lag. Comfortingly, the results remain qualitatively the same for all lags explored,
although the eff ects are strongest for the one- and two-year lag."

Quite frankly, I have enjoyed reading your blog so far.
But bashing a young Ph.D. student and a recent graduate like that on an anonymous blog... that's really low level.

You don't even offer an alternative explanation for their finding. It just makes me wonder why you did not simply send them a friendly e-mail giving them some advice instead of bashing them on this blog while offering no further insights at all?

Anonymous said...

Love your blog!

The authors make a good point. The internet makes it much easier to find information and this has been reflected in journals. You make a good point too. Who cares about journals when working papers are so accessible? Sadly the profession still seems to be love with them, perhaps because of the tenure system. We could use other metrics: citations, downloads. We could have cites where papers are rated and people could leave comments.

Keep up the good work! You always focus on the economics in a disinterested fashion.

Economic Logician said...

With the wider availability of citation data, and especially much faster than before, the role of journals a quality indicator is fading. We can now use citations directly to evaluate people.

I am less convinced about download statistics as a good indicator of research. And is some way, this blog give the opportunity to discuss papers. I wish more people were doing this.

Josef Rack said...

Wonderful blog & good post.Its really helpful for me, awaiting for more new post. Keep Blogging! Thank You

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