January 2013 newsletter – Economic Journal — Editor’s annual report

The annual report of the editor of the Economic Journal was presented to Council in November. This is an edited version.


  • We thank Steve Pischke and David Myatt, two Editors who came to the end of their term this year, for their contribution to the Journal. We welcome three new Editors, Frederic Vermeulen, Martin Cripps and Kjell Salvanes who have joined this year.
  • We thank Heather Daly, who has served the Economic Journal very well as Publishing Editor. We welcome Stephanie Seavers as the new Publishing Editor.
  • The Economic Journal office has moved to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Total submissions of articles to the regular journal increased by 11 per cent to 916. We received a total of 1010 submissions including the Conference Volume and Features submissions.
  • Average turnaround times remained at 7.9 weeks across all submissions.
  • The impact factor for the journal fell this year to 1.945.
  • We introduced a new data policy; authors are required to make data and programmes that allow empirical results to be replicated available via the Economic Journal website except in exceptional circumstances.
  • The RES and EJ websites received a major redesign and overhaul.

Journal and Editorial Performance 

Changes in Editors 
This year has seen a number of changes to the Editorial team at the Economic Journal (see above).

With effect from January 2013 the team will be: 

Joint Managing Editors — Wouter den Haan, London School of Economics and Andrea Galeotti, University of Essex

Rachel Griffith, University of Manchester and IFS; Steve Machin, University College London; Frederic Vermeulen, University of Leuven; Martin Cripps, University College London; Kjell Salvanes, NHH

Publishing Editor — Stephanie Seavers, IFS 
The process for handling Features submissions has been integrated into the main journal. The job of editing Features submissions is now shared amongst the Joint Managing Editors.

Submissions continued to increase (Table 1). They were up 11 per cent on the previous year. We have incorporated all submissions into one system, so in Table 1 we now report numbers of submissions for all three types of submissions.

The geographic distribution of submissions (Table 2) has remained reasonably steady, with the largest share coming from Europe (44 per cent), a slight increase from last year, followed by North America (21 per cent), a slight decrease from last year.

Editorial Processing Time

Editorial processing and turn-around times remained overall at the level of last year (Table 3). Average turn-around time for the most recent period is 7.9 weeks across all submissions. Around 45 per cent of papers were dealt with by Editors alone (screen rejected) within two weeks. Less than 10 per cent of papers took longer than 5 months and less than 2 per cent longer than 6 months.

The ability of Editors to keep turnaround times down is in no small part due to the quick response we get from referees. Over 75 per cent of referees responded within 2 months, which is remarkable, and greatly facilitates our work.

Table 4 shows response times for revise and resubmit and rejected papers. 60 per cent of rejected papers were informed within 1 month, and only 4 per cent took 6 months or longer to receive a decision. Of papers invited for revision, one-quarter received a decision within 3 months and two-thirds received a decision in less than 6 months.

Three years ago the Editorial Board introduced the innovation to allow authors the option to submit referee reports from previous unsuccessful submissions at other journals, along with responses to these referees, with the idea that this would facilitate our ability to speed up the refereeing process. This option has been taken up by a number of authors and has led to faster editorial processing times in a number of cases and to a number of very good papers being accepted for publication in the Economic Journal.

Rankings and impact factors

Table 5 shows the 2 year impact factor for the Economic Journal. It has fallen from 2.271 in 2010 to 1.945. This fall was also experienced by the other main comparator journals. The EJ's relative ranking is 40/320 in the Economics Category (statistics provided by Wiley-Blackwell).

Data policy

We introduced a new data policy this year. This appears on: http://www.res.org.uk/view/datapolicyEconomic.html
and reads:

The Economic Journal requires authors of empirical and experimental papers to provide documentation of how their results were obtained in sufficient detail and accuracy to allow their results to be replicated. Before submitting a paper, please confirm that you are willing to comply with this policy. You will be asked to confirm this when you submit your paper on-line.

Empirical papers
For papers that contain descriptive, econometric or simulated analysis of data the authors must provide:

  • sufficient detail in the paper, or in an appendix to the paper, for the reader to understand the nature of the data used and how it was constructed,

and one of the following:

  • data set(s) and programmes that allow replication of all of the results in the paper, along with a file (README.pdf) that describes how the data and programmes can be used to replicate the results, and any manipulation that was carried out to obtain the data from the publicly available sources of the data;


  • a request for an exemption based on the grounds that the data are from commercially available or restricted access data sources, in which case programmes that allow replication of all of the results in the paper, along with a file (README.pdf) that describes how the data can be obtained or accessed, how the programmes can be used to replicate the results, and any manipulation that was carried out to obtain the data in the dataset from the commercially available sources of the data must be provided.
  • a request for an exemption based on the grounds that the data are from a proprietary data source that is not accessible to other researchers; papers using such data are discouraged but will be considered on an individual basis by the Editor; the exemption must be requested at the time of submission; if the paper is accepted a file (README.pdf) that describes how the data was collected and used to obtain the results must be provided.

This information must be submitted to the EJ Editorial office (ej@ifs.org.uk) if the paper is accepted for publication and will be posted on the website alongside the paper on the Economic Journalwebsite. The Editor may also request additional information during the refereeing process.

Experimental papers 
For papers that contain analysis of experimental data we require the authors to provide at the time of submission of the paper (authors are asked to include all information as part of the main PDF file rather than as separate items):

  • a document outlining the design of the experiment;
  • a copy of the instructions given to participants, in both the original language and an English translation; 
  • information on the selection and eligibility of participants.

In addition, if the paper is accepted for publication then the following information must also be provided:

  • the programmes used to analyse the data or run the experiment;
  • the raw data collected from the experiment.

This information will be posted on the Economic Journal website if the paper is accepted.


The RES and EJ websites have recently received major redesigns and overhauls. In future we anticipate making more extensive use of the website to highlight papers and auxiliary material to papers.

Circulation statistics 

As table 6 shows, there are currently 1,717 institutional subscriptions to the Economic Journal. This compares with 1,831 at the end of 2011. As in previous years we expect further renewals to be confirmed well into the final quarter of the year.

In addition to the above there are 48 reduced rate institutional subscriptions in China as part of our arrangement with the World Publishing Corporation (WPC) which is based in China and markets selected journals locally at a discounted rate. There were 58 in 2011.

Membership of the RES

Total membership currently stands at 3,013, compared with 2,939 at the end of 2011. As usual we expect further growth in the final quarter. Paid membership of the Royal Economic Society has increased by 3 per cent to 2,734 from 2,658 in 2011, and by 16 per cent since 2010. 737 members have taken the new option for online membership, introduced for 2012. 

The number of student members has increased by 20 per cent to 847 from 706 in 2011, and by 46 per cent since 2010. There are currently 404 student members with online membership. 215 joined when the new 3-year online option was introduced in 2011 and a further 189 have joined so far this year. 

Overall 42 per cent of paid members now have online only membership and do not receive a print copy of the EJ.

JSTOR Statistics

JSTOR’s ‘Register and Read’ requires users to register for a MyJSTOR account. Users self-report profile information during registration. Users may update their information at any time. Since March, JSTOR have provided statistics on who is reading the Economic Journal.

Prizes and EJ Lecture 

RES Prize

The 2011 RES Prize for the best non-solicited paper published in the Economic Journal was decided by a committee consisting of Richard Blundell (RES President), Peyton Young (Oxford University) and former EJ Joint Managing Editor, Steve Pischke. The prize was awarded to Loukas Karabarbounis of the University of Chicago, for his paper ‘One Dollar, One Vote’, Volume 121, p.621. 

The next Royal Economic Society Prize of £3,000 for the best paper in the Economic Journal for the year 2012 will be decided in the coming months.

Austin Robinson Prize

The Austin Robinson Memorial Prize was introduced in 2007 for the best paper published in the Economic Journal by an author who is within five years of completing their PhD. The prize, chosen by the Economic Journal editors, is given annually and includes an award of £2,000.

The 2011 Austin Robinson Memorial prize was awarded to Guy Michaels of the London School of Economics, for his paper ‘The Long Term Consequences of Resource-Based Specialisation’, Volume 121, p.31.

EJ Referee Prizes

The Economic Journal depends greatly on the service of many referees for the functioning of the peer review process. In previous years referees were give a token payment for their services. Following feedback from many of our referees, and guided by findings in the research literature (e.g. Gneezy and Rustichini, QJE, August 2000) we decided to discontinue these payments. We would like to thank all of our many referees who continue to provide their services without compensation.

While many referees help us tremendously with their comments, some of our referees contribute beyond the call of duty through their thoroughness and constructive feedback to the authors, and sometimes through the number of reports that they write. This service in the profession rarely gets acknowledged. Starting in 2010, the Economic Journal now recognises the contribution of these exceptional referees with an annual referee prize. The Editors chose 10 winners for the referee prize for 2011. We thank all of these individuals for their outstanding support of the Journal, and the service they have provided to the authors. 
The 2011 winners are:

  • Francesco Fasani, Institute for Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC)
  • Ethan Ilzetzki, London School of Economics
  • Julia Lane, National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Gernot Müller , University of Bonn
  • Giacomo Ponzetto, CREi, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
  • Justin Rao, Yahoo! Research
  • Burkhard Schipper, University of California, Davis
  • Andrew Shephard, Princeton University
  • Johannes van Biesebroeck, University of Toronto
  • David Vines, University of Oxford

2012 Annual Conference and EJ Conference Volume 

The EJ Lecture this year was given at the RES Annual Conference in Cambridge on ‘Trade and Inequality’ by Elhanan Helpman of Harvard University. It will not be published in the Conference Volume, but a video of the talk is available on-line at: http://www.fsmevents.com/res/1ejl/onDemand.html 

The special session on Foundations of Revealed Preferences, presented at RES 2011 and co-funded by CeMMAP, will appear in the Conference Volume including papers by Sydney Afriat, Erwin Diewert, Hal Varian and an Introduction written by Frederic Vermeulen.

Looking forward

The main job of the Joint Managing Editors and Publishing Editor is to ensure that turn-around times remain low and that the best quality papers are accepted for publication; this will remain the focus of our efforts and attention. 

There has been much change in the organisation of the Economic Journal, with a number of Editors coming to the end of their terms, and with the move of the journal office. Our main focus throughout the year will be to ensure that these changes lead to improvements in turn-around times and decision making processes. 

Looking forward, we are considering ways that we can work with the publishers to make the journal website a more useful resource for authors and readers, for example by including access to more ancillary resources, such as data for replication and teaching materials.