Monday, June 01, 2009

"Economists in the Pits?"

Apologies for the low posting rate - academics occasionally have to take a holiday and when that location is "internetless" even the most ardent blogger has to admit defeat.

In UK academia the pressure to publish in "A" journals is immense. However, with a large increase in the number of economists and the pressure to publish increasing from all directions it is no surprise that this is difficult to achieve (not least if you are an environmental economist).

This paper is of interest to any academic trying to pin down that "A" publication and perhaps even more interesting to those who have accepted that this is a dream not worth pursuing.

The abstract definitely sucks you in. How do the losers react and why is it harmful. Any "losers" reading this post should think how they have or are reacting to see if it matches. How can the system be changed from rewarding those who are able to publish in the top journals? How can that not be a good thing?

Economists in the Pits? [SSRN]

Bruno S. Frey
University of Zurich - Institute for Empirical Research in Economics (IEW); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

March 2009

CESifo Working Paper Series No. 2594

Academic economists today are caught in a "Publication Impossibility Theorem System" or PITS. To further their careers, they are required to publish in A-journals, but this is impossible for the vast majority because there are few slots open in such journals. Such academic competition is held to provide the right incentives for hard work, but there may be serious negative consequences: the wrong output may be produced in an inefficient way, the wrong people may be selected, and the losers may react in a harmful way. The paper suggests several ways for improvement.

Keywords: academia, economists, publication, journals, incentives, economic methodology

JEL Classifications: A1, D02, I23
Working Paper Series


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