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Clubs and Networks in Economics Reviewing (WP-22-05)

Scott Carrell, David Figlio, and Lester Lusher

The network of economists who publish in leading journals is generally perceived as small, exclusive, and tightly knit. Carrell, Figlio, and Lusher study how author-editor and author-reviewer network connectivity and “match” influences editor decisions and reviewer recommendations of economic research at the Journal of Human Resources (JHR). Their empirical strategy employs several dimensions of fixed effects to overcome concerns of endogenous assignment of papers to editors and reviewers in order to identify causal impacts. Results show that clubs and networks play a large role in influencing both editor and reviewer decisions. Authors who attended the same PhD program, were ever colleagues with, are affiliates of the same NBER program(s), or are more closely linked via co-authorship networks as the handling editor are significantly more likely to avoid a desk rejection. Likewise, authors from the same PhD program or who previously worked with the reviewer are significantly more likely to receive a positive evaluation. The researchers also find that sharing “signals” of ability, such as publishing in “top five,” attending a high-ranked PhD program, or being employed by a similarly ranked economics department significantly influences editor decisions and/or reviewer recommendations.

Scott Carrell, Professor of Economics, University of California, Davis

David Figlio, Orrington Lunt Professor of Education and Social Policy and IPR Fellow, Northwestern University

Lester Lusher, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics and Public Policy Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa

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