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Bias in Economics Journals

August 31, 2006

Organizations and Markets is running a couple of threads dealing with journal editors, reviewers, and the "market test" for academic quality (see here and here, and also this thread at orgtheory.net). I directed readers to the exchange between Yeager and Laband and Tollison (1, 2, 3).

A commentator recommends these papers, which I hadn't seen before, and which may be of interest to this blog's readers:

"The Editors and Authors of Economics Journals: A Case of Institutional Oligopoly?" Geoffrey M. Hodgson and Harry Rothman, Economic Journal, 1999.
Abstract: This paper examines data on the institutional backgrounds of editors and authors of the top 30 economics journals, identified by their 1995 citation impact. It is revealed, for example, that 70.8% of the journal editors were located in the United States, and twelve U.S. universities accounted for the location of more than 38.9%. Concerning journal article authors, 65.7% were located in U.S. institutions and twelve U.S. universities accounted for 21.8%. Arguably, the degree of institutional and geographical concentration of editors and authors may be unhealthy for innovative research in economics.
"Diversity in Economics: An Analysis of Journal Quality Perceptions," Kostas Axarloglou and Vasilis Theoharakis, Journal of European Economic Association, December 2003, 1(6): 1402-1423.
Abstract: It is still debatable whether scientific diversity is a virtue or a disadvantage for the develop-ment of a discipline. Nonetheless, diversity among scientists with respect to their journal quality perceptions plays an important role in hiring and promotion decisions. In this article we examine the degree of diversity within economics based on the journal quality perceptions of 2,103 AEA economists worldwide. Specifically, we empirically test for factors that might explain differences in an economist's journal quality perceptions. These factors include an economist's geographic origin, school of thought, journal affiliation, field of specialization and research orientation. Indeed, we find that a significant degree of diversity in journal quality perceptions exists between economists that belong in different subgroups. These results might explain the frequent debates in tenure and promotion committees where journal standings are used for the evaluation of a researcher's output.

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