Advice From A Journal Editor

Here's a very interesting and informative piece titled "Edifying Editing" by R. Preston McAfee (former co-editor of AER and editor of Economic Inquiry). It's not entirely applicable to finance because he's an econ guy. But there is a great deal of similarity between the fields. Here are a few things that stuck with me:
  1. He cites a paper by Dan Hamermesh (1994), who discovered that, conditional on not receiving a report in 3 months, the expected waiting time was a year. So, if you want to endear yourself to editors and you're a reviewer, get stuff done quickly. I know that the longer I wait on a referee report, the less I feel like punching it out.
  2. Around 25% of the to AER during his tenure were rejected due to poor execution. That is, the paper represented a good start on an article worthy topic, but provided too little for the audience. I recently was discussing a former student (and current coauthor) with a friend of mine who edits a pretty good journal. His comment was that my friend does good work, but "needs to finish his papers". Unfortunately, my friend often sends papers out to journals to get feedback from referees. That's what colleagues are for.
  3. He feels like a a surprising number of papers provide no meaningful conclusion. Don;t merely reiterate your introduction in the conclusion. The introduction is to motivate a problem and summarize your results, and the conclusion is your opportunity to tie things together and make some parting shots.
  4. He feels that submitting a paper where the editor has deep expertise usually produces a higher bar but less variance in the evaluation.
All in all a very worthwhile read. So read it here.

HT: Marginal Revolution