Up or Out: Resetting Norms for Peer Reviewed Publishing in the Social Sciences

15 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2020

See all articles by Campbell R. Harvey

Campbell R. Harvey

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

David A. Hirshleifer

Marshall School of Business, USC; University of California, Irvine - Paul Merage School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 7, 2020

Abstract

The peer review process typically has multiple evaluators. Too often editors rely on the Union Heuristic, which requires authors to perform all requested tests and extensions suggested by referees and editors, with results confirming the paper’s message. The Union Heuristic is easy, but has dysfunctional consequences—wasteful efforts on excessive empirical and theoretical robustness checks and extensions, slow publication times, bloated papers, and heavy use of referee time. We contrast this with the polar opposite (also not our recommendation), the Intersection Heuristic—requiring authors to perform only extensions requested by all evaluators. We propose that editors reset norms by making clear that as a matter of procedure, at editor discretion, excellent referee or coeditor suggestions will often not be mandated for authors. Instead, there should be a presumption of Up or Out (accept or reject typically one round of revisions or less) for submissions, with the extent of suggested changes held firmly in check. This will improve referee and author incentives, and streamline the publication process. It may also encourage authors to take the risks inherent in producing more innovative papers.

Keywords: Editing, Editorial process, Peer review, Research, Academic publishing, Innovation, Turnaround time, Refereeing, Union Heuristic, Intersection Heuristic, Up-or-out

JEL Classification: A1, A2, A3, B00, C00, D00, E00, F00, G00, H00, I00, J00, K00, L00, M00, N00, O1, O2, O3, O4, O5, P00

Suggested Citation

Harvey, Campbell R. and Hirshleifer, David A. and Hirshleifer, David A., Up or Out: Resetting Norms for Peer Reviewed Publishing in the Social Sciences (December 7, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3744513 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3744513

Campbell R. Harvey

Duke University - Fuqua School of Business ( email )

Box 90120
Durham, NC 27708-0120
United States
919-660-7768 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.duke.edu/~charvey

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David A. Hirshleifer (Contact Author)

Marshall School of Business, USC ( email )

Marshall School of Business
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

University of California, Irvine - Paul Merage School of Business ( email )

Paul Merage School of Business
Irvine, CA California 92697-3125
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.uci.edu/dhirshle/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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