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The review process in economics: is it too fast?

1. Introduction

The academic publishing process is an extremely important topic because it affects the productivity of scholars in producing and disseminating new knowledge, and yet it has received relatively little attention in the academic literature. Research about the academic review process is an important tool to making more informed decisions about how we should shape this process. Such research, for example, may allow us to make better decisions in issues such as the publication delay, submission fees, and single- versus double-blind review. Although some studies on the process of academic research have been written and even published in top journals, (1) the research in this area is scant compared to its importance.

The long time it takes an article from its first submission to a journal to its publication is one of the main criticisms of the academic review process in certain disciplines. Especially upset about this long delay are untenured faculty, who need to publish several articles in a few years in order to get tenure. The first-response time (the time from submission of the manuscript to receipt of the initial editorial decision about it; henceforth denoted FRT) is a particularly important part of the delay; as opposed to the time it takes to revise the paper or the time from acceptance to publication, the FRT delays all manuscripts submitted, not only the few whose authors are asked to revise and resubmit or the few that are accepted. Consequently, the average paper is delayed by the FRT several times (about three to six times according to Azar 2004).

The long FRT in economics journals (often three to six months) seems unnecessary. After all, referees usually do not need more than a few hours to read a paper and write a report on it; neither do editors need much time to make a decision once they obtain the referees' reports. The short FRTs in leading journals in finance and accounting (often one to two months) suggest that shorter FRTs are possible. Indeed, editors of many economics journals try to reduce the FRT in their journals, their motivation often being either to benefit the profession or to attract more submissions. Whatever the editors' motivation is, most people believe that these efforts are welfare increasing. This article suggests that this common belief is not necessarily correct.

The article argues that the current FRT may be below optimal, so that efforts to reduce it are counterproductive, even though I claim that reducing the FRT will not harm the quality of the review process. The reason that reducing the FRT may be harmful is that it will increase the number of submissions of low-quality papers to top journals, thus increasing the workload of referees and editors without any significant benefit in terms of the quality of research published. Moreover, the increased number of submissions will raise the rejection rate, and each paper will be rejected more times on average before it is published, so the total time from initial submission to publication may not decrease at all.

2. Are the Efforts to Reduce the First-Response Time Beneficial?

The aspect of the review process that receives maybe the most criticism in economics is the long FRT. (2) Authors, especially untenured ones, are upset that it takes several months to receive a decision about the submitted manuscript. After all, the refereeing task takes only a few hours. Hamermesh (1994), for example, suggests that it takes six hours to referee an average paper. The Canadian Journal of Economics provides advice to referees in which it states "The amount of time taken with a paper can vary enormously--anything from a couple of hours to a couple of days of full-time effort. A typical report should probably take 3 or 4 hours." (3)

If it takes only a few hours to referee a paper, why does it take several months to get an editorial decision? The main reason is that it takes the referees a long time to return their reports, usually not because they need a lot of time to ponder about the paper but because papers wait a long time to be read. This may be the result of the referee having higher-priority tasks, of procrastination, and maybe of fear that prompt response will result in additional refereeing assignments too soon.

The delay caused by the refereeing process makes the dissemination of research slower, and this is particularly important because new research builds on previous work, so any delay causes the entire chain of research to be delayed. Moreover, when it takes a long time from writing an article to its publication, this reduces the chances that a policy-oriented article will be published in time to be relevant, deterring economists from writing such papers (Borts 1981). These costs of the delay brought several economists to suggest ways to reduce the delay (Hamermesh 1994; Pressman 1994; Szenberg 1994). Editors often express their desire to shorten the review time (Ellison 2002a). (4) Their reason, however, is often to attract authors rather than the profession's welfare (Stulz 2000).

Are the efforts made by editors and others to shorten the FRT beneficial from a social point of view? Most scholars think that the answer is positive, as this enables faster dissemination of knowledge. The few who think otherwise usually argue that shortening the delay will reduce the quality of the review because referees will have less time to prepare their reports. This argument, however, is hard to reconcile with the fact that most of the delay is caused when the manuscript just waits to be read. (5)

What I argue, however, is that even if shortening the FRT has no effect on the review quality, it might not be optimal to shorten it (obviously, if one believes that shortening the FRT reduces review quality, this makes my claim even stronger). The reason is rooted in the special structure of costs and benefits in the academic profession. Basically, the idea is that the private monetary cost to submit an existing manuscript to another journal is negligible compared to the private benefits from a publication in a good journal. This cost is also much smaller than the social cost of the review process. As a result, if the FRT is very short, authors have an incentive to submit their manuscript to many more journals than a social planner would like them to. Authors do not internalize the costs that they impose on editors and referees when they submit a paper. The FRT is an additional submission cost from the author's perspective, and it therefore increases the private costs of submission, reducing the number of submissions and alleviating the workload on editors and referees. As a result, given the current low submission fees in economics, shortening the editorial delay without taking measures to prevent excessive submissions may in fact reduce social welfare. (6) The following sections elaborate on these ideas.

3. Why Does a Lower First-Response Time Lead to More Submissions?

To show why a lower FRT leads to more submissions, I present a simple model about how the optimal submission strategy is determined. The optimal submission strategy is a very complicated problem to solve analytically, so to make the model traceable I use almost the simplest framework possible and ignore interesting issues such as the differences in FRTs between journals (for a discussion and empirical analysis of the optimal submission strategy, see Oster 1980).

Assume that for a certain manuscript, there is a finite set of journals that may publish it, and that they can be ranked according to their quality, where quality is determined according to how much an author gains from having a publication in the journal. Denote the number of relevant journals by K, and let 1 be the highest-quality journal, 2 the second highest and so on. Let [G.sub.i] be the present value of the gains from having a paper accepted by journal i (the i-th best journal), for example, increased salary (the gains from publications are discussed in detail in the following sections). By definition, [G.sub.1] [greater than or equal to] [G.sub.2] [greater than or equal to] ... [greater than or equal to] [G.sub.K].

The author can rank the quality of his paper, where quality J means that the paper will surely be accepted by journals J, J+1, ..., K. Clearly, the author will never submit the paper to the journals J+1, J+2, ..., K, since he is better off submitting to journal J. There is also a positive (but smaller than 1) probability that the paper will be accepted in journals better than J; the probability of acceptance of a quality-J paper in journal i is denoted by [q.sub.i](J). By definition, [q.sub.i](J) = 1 for all i [greater than or equal to] J.

For simplicity I assume that [G.sub.1][q.sub.i](J) [greater than or equal to] [G.sub.2][q.sub.2](J) [greater than or equal to] ... [greater than or equal to] [G.sub.J-1][q.sub.J-1](J). It may be, however, that [G.sub.J][q.sub.J](J) (which is equal to [G.sub.J]) is higher than [G.sub.J-1][q.sub.J-1](J), and even higher than [G.sub.1][q.sub.1](J). I also assume that each submission has a cost of c < [G.sub.K]. Let us define [delta] = 1/[(1 + interest rate).sup.d], where d is the FRT. Assuming that the author submits the manuscript to the next journal immediately after receiving a rejection, the time between subsequent submissions of the manuscript is equal to d. It follows that [delta] is the discount factor according to which the author discounts the payoff from the next submission.

Because both [G.sub.i] and [G.sub.i][q.sub.i] are nonincreasing in i for all i < J, the author's optimal strategy is to submit the paper first to the best m journals in a decreasing order (0 [less than or equal to] m [less than or equal to] J - 1) and then to journal J. This strategy has the obvious stopping rule: once the paper is accepted at a certain journal, the author does not submit it anymore. To find the optimal value of m, the author first considers two options: (A) submit the manuscript immediately to journal J; (B) submit the manuscript first to journal 1 and if rejected to J. Notice that if the utility from (B) exceeds that from (A), it is better to submit the manuscript first to 1, but not necessarily to then submit to J if it is rejected. The utility from (A) is [G.sub.J] - c, whereas the utility from (B) is -c + [q.sub.1](J)[G.sub.1] + [1 - [q.sub.1](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c), so it is optimal to submit immediately to J (to choose m = 0) if and only if [G.sub.J] > [q.sub.1](J)[G.sub.1] + [1 - [q.sub.1](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c).

Similarly, if the author submits to journal 1 and receives a rejection, he compares the utility from submitting to J immediately and submitting first to 2 and if rejected to J. Submitting to J at this point (i.e., choosing m = 1) is optimal if and only if [G.sub.J] [greater than or equal to] [q.sub.2](J)[G.sub.2] + [1 - [q.sub.2](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c). We can analyze the optimal decision at any point in a similar fashion. The result is that the author submits to journal i rather than to J as long as

(1) [q.sub.i](J)[G.sub.i] + [1 - [q.sub.i](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c) > [G.sub.J]

and once this inequality is violated for a certain journal i, he submits the paper to J. (7)

Given the value of [G.sub.J], if the value of [q.sub.i](J)[G.sub.i] + [1 - [q.sub.i](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c) is increased for all i, the number of journals that the author tries before submitting to J (which we defined as m) is also (weakly) increased. One way to increase the value of [q.sub.i](J)[G.sub.i] + [1 - [q.sub.i](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c) for all i is to reduce c. This implies that if the submission cost is reduced, the author chooses to submit his paper to more top journals before submitting it to the journal where it is accepted for sure. The same idea applies to the FRT, which can be thought of as the time cost of submission. Because [q.sub.i](J)[G.sub.i] + [1 - [q.sub.i](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c) is increasing in [delta], it is decreasing in d. It follows that a shorter FRT (lower d) causes [m.sup.*] (the optimal value of m) to be higher.

In addition, the average number of submissions is increasing in m. To see this, notice that the expected number of submissions is equal to n(m) = [q.sub.1] + 2(1 - [q.sub.1])[q.sub.2] + 3(1 - [q.sub.1])(1 - [q.sub.2])[q.sub.3] + ... + (m + 1)(1 - [q.sub.1])(1 - [q.sub.2]) ... (1 - [q.sub.m]) [using [q.sub.i] rather than [q.sub.i](J) to simplify the notation]. It is immediately apparent that n(m) is increasing in m, and therefore n[[m.sup.*](d)] is decreasing in d, implying that lower FRTs increase the number of submissions. The fact that the number of submissions is decreasing in the FRT suggests that there is a cost to shortening the FRT, namely, the opportunity cost of the time of referees and editors.

4. Private Costs and Benefits of Submissions

Based on an average of several studies, a publication in economics journals ranked 1-10 (level 1), 11-55 (level 2), or 56-100 (level 3) increases salary by about 3%, 1.7%, or 0.7%, respectively. (8) The costs of submitting an existing manuscript have three main parts: the value of the time required for printing and mailing the manuscript, the submission fee, and the monetary value of the delay in reaping the monetary rewards from publication because of the refereeing process. Table 1 presents data about submission fees in different journals. The value of the delay in publication caused by the refereeing process (from the author's perspective) depends on the FRT; Table 2 presents the FRT in various journals, showing that it is on average a little more than 4 months. One can compute the cost of the editorial delay for his salary, years until retirement, discount rate, and assumptions about where the article will eventually be published. (9) Except for faculty very close to retirement or faculty in countries where the contribution of publications to salary is insignificant, it is the case that the editorial delay is the major cost of submitting an existing manuscript to a journal.

5. Optimal Submission Strategy

The optimal submission strategy given the hundreds of journals in economics is a very complicated problem (for discussion of this problem and numerical analysis for eight journals, see Oster 1980). Consequently, I take a simpler approach, which is to find out the optimal cutoff probability between submitting to level-1 journals and to lower-quality journals: a cutoff probability of 4%, for example, means that an author would find it optimal to submit his paper to level-1 journals only if he estimates that his acceptance chances (in each journal separately) are higher than 4%. Otherwise, he is better off submitting the paper to a lower-ranked journal in which he has higher acceptance chances. The exact algorithm according to which the cutoff probabilities were computed is omitted for the sake of brevity but is available from the author upon request. It is based on comparing the cost of submitting to a level-1 journal (which consists of the three costs mentioned earlier) to the benefit (which is influenced by the probability that the paper will be accepted in a level-1 journal and the additional monetary benefit of publication in level 1 compared to level 2). Table 3 reports the cutoff probabilities for different values of the FRT and the submission fee. (10) Today, the FRT of level-1 journals is about 4 months, and submission fees are around $50, so the optimal cutoff probability is about 4.5%. (11)

6. First-Response Times and the Number of Submissions

If submission fee on average is $50, how do different FRTs affect the behavior of authors? Suppose that we could reduce the FRT to only two months. We see from Table 3 that the cutoff probability will change from 4.5% to 2.3%. What does it mean in terms of the number of submissions? Because acceptance rates in the top five journals are around 9%, and in the next five around 16%, it probably means many more submissions. (12) The reason is that the distribution of the quality of papers is very skewed. Many of the papers accepted at top journals had an a priori acceptance probability much higher than the average acceptance rate of 9%. Because the average a priori acceptance probability is equal to 9%, this implies that hundreds of papers submitted to each top journal have a priori acceptance probability lower than 9%. It follows that reducing the cutoff probability from 4.5% to 2.3%, for example, can result in hundreds of additional submissions to each of the top journals. Many authors of low-quality papers who today are deterred by the long editorial delay and do not submit to top journals will give luck a chance if delays are shorter. The same thing will happen to lower-quality papers that today are submitted to level-3 journals but will be submitted to level-2 journals if the delay becomes significantly shorter.

7. Additional Effects of Shorter First-Response Times

The discussion so far suggests that shortening the FRT will cause many submissions of low-quality papers to good journals and thus create a lot of additional workload for referees and editors. There are additional important points in favor of a high FRT, however. Because a reduced FRT will increase the number of submissions to top journals, acceptance rates will drop, and papers will suffer more rejections before they are published. The time they spend being rejected from journals increases the total publication delay and may offset and even exceed the time saved by shortening the FRT. As a result, we may not only increase the workload of referees and editors but also increase the total time that a paper spends from its initial submission to its publication. Moreover, the increased number of submissions is likely to lead journals to use less qualified referees, and referees to spend less time reviewing each submission, both reducing the quality of the refereeing process.

On the other hand, if referees provide helpful comments to rejected papers also, and if authors revise their papers accordingly, papers submitted to top journals and rejected become better, offsetting some of the additional time costs of referees and editors. However, shortening the delay might also induce authors to submit their papers in an earlier stage and with a lower quality than they do today.

Another issue is the matching between journal quality and article quality. Creating a good match is the main reason for the refereeing process: it allows readers to focus their reading on top-quality articles, and it facilitates the job of promotion and tenure committees. How do more submissions affect this matching? If authors know very little about the quality of their papers, and referees are very accurate in their evaluation, inducing more people to submit to top journals will increase the quality of top journals (some cases in which good papers are not submitted to top journals will be eliminated), improving the matching between article and journal qualities. If authors have a good idea about the quality of their papers, and referees make some mistakes, however, more submissions of low-quality papers (induced by a shorter FRT) can actually reduce the average quality of top journals and hurt the sorting function of journals.

Many economists feel that untenured faculty suffer the most from the long FRTs because they have limited time to obtain sufficient publications for tenure. This is incorrect, however, because untenured professors compete among themselves. If shorter FRTs, for example, will allow assistant professors to have more publications in their first few years, the number of publications tenure committees require for tenure will increase as well (Pressman 1994).

8. Conclusion

In light of recent efforts by editors to reduce the FRT, I examine whether doing so is socially beneficial. I argue that the editorial delay constitutes the major cost of submitting an existing manuscript to a journal. Because the rewards of publication in top journals are very high, a reduction in the editorial delay and therefore in the submission cost will induce many more submissions of low-quality papers to top journals. This has large costs in terms of the additional time that editors and referees will have to waste to handle these papers. Moreover, an increase in submissions will increase the rejection rate and the average number of times that a paper is rejected before being published. As a result, the total time from the first submission to publication (potentially in a different journal) may not decrease much and may even increase. If this total time decreases, it is hard to compare the cost of referees' and editors' time with the benefit of faster dissemination of new research. The discussion suggests, however, that it is certainly possible that a shorter FRT is not beneficial. In fact, a longer FRT might even be better than the current FRTs for the same reasons that shortening the FRT might not be beneficial. It follows that the efforts of editors to reduce the FRT, although promoting the interest of the journal to attract authors, may be socially undesirable.

References

Azar, Ofer H. 2004. Rejections and the importance of first response times. International Journal of Social Economics 31:259-74.

Azar, Ofer H. 2005. The academic review process: How can we make it more efficient? American Economist. In press.

Blank, Rebecca. 1991. The effects of double-blind versus single-blind reviewing: Experimental evidence from the American Economic Review. American Economic Review 81:1041-67.

Borts, George H. 1981. Report of the Managing Editor: American Economic Review. American Economic Review 71:452-64.

Ellison, Glenn. 2002a. The slowdown of the economics publishing process. Journal of Political Economy 110:947-93.

Ellison, Glenn. 2002b. Evolving standards for academic publishing: A q-r theory. Journal of Political Economy 110:994-1034.

Engers, Maxim, and Joshua S. Gans. 1998. Why referees are not paid (enough). American Economic Review 88:1341-9.

Hamermesh, Daniel S. 1994. Facts and myths about refereeing. Journal of Economic Perspectives 8:153-63.

Hamermesh, Daniel S., and Sharon M. Oster. 2002. Tools or toys? The impact of high technology on scholarly productivity. Economic Inquiry 40:539-55.

Laband, David N. 1990. Is there value-added from the review process in economics? Preliminary evidence from authors. Quarterly Journal of Economics 105:341-52.

Laband, David N., and Michael J. Pierre. 1994. Favoritism versus search for good papers: Empirical evidence regarding the behavior of journal editors. Journal of Political Economy 102:194-203.

Moore, William J., Robert J. Newmam and Geoffrey K. Turnbull. 2001. Reputational capital and academic pay. Economic Inquiry 39:663-71.

Oster, Sharon. 1980. The optimal order for submitting manuscripts. American Economic Review 70:444-8.

Pressman, Steven. 1994. Simultaneous journal submissions: the case against. American Journal of Economics and Sociology 53:316-33.

Price, Gregory N., and Laura Razzolini. 2002. The returns to seniority in the labor market for academic economists. Unpublished paper.

Sauer, Raymond D. 1988. Estimates of the returns to quality and coauthorship in economic academia. Journal of Political Economy 96:855-66.

Stulz, Renee M. 2000. Report of the Editor for his tenure and 1999. Journal of Finance 55:1861-92.

Szenberg, Michael. 1994. Disseminating scholarly output: the case for eliminating the exclusivity of journal submissions. American Journal of Economics and Sociology 53:303-15.

(1) See, for example, Laband (1990), Blank (1991), Hamermesh (1994), Laband and Piette (1994), Engers and Gans (1998), Moore, Newman, and Tumbull (2001), Ellison (2002a, b), and Hamermesh and Oster (2002).

(2) In what follows, I sometimes use "editorial delay" or just "delay" rather than "FRT," but they all mean the same thing.

(3) See on-line at http://economics.ca/cje/en/referees.php.

(4) See also the editors' message of the Review of Economic Studies at http://www.restud.com/report.htm.

(5) Another argument why shorter delay might reduce the review quality is that to reduce the delay the editors would have to use less qualified referees. Indeed, Hamermesh (1994) finds evidence that heavily cited economists take a few more weeks to referee papers than others. Whether those economists provide better referee reports is an interesting question for future research, as they might be very busy and therefore dedicate less time to their report.

(6) For a discussion of several potential measures to reduce the FRT while preventing frivolous submissions, see Azar (2005).

(7) If the inequality (1) is satisfied for journal z and is violated for journal z + 1, it is also satisfied for journals 1, 2, ..., z - 1, and is also violated for z+ 1, z + 2, ..., J - 1. This follows from the fact that [q.sub.i](J)[G.sub.i] + [1 - [q.sub.i](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c) is decreasing in i for all i < J. To see this, consider two journals x and y, where x < y < J. We want to show that [q.sub.x](J)[G.sub.x] + [1 - [q.sub.x](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c) [greater than or equal to] [q.sub.y](J)[G.sub.y] + [1 - [q.sub.y](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c). If [q.sub.x](J) [less than or equal to] [q.sub.y](J), this follows immediately [recall that c < [G.sub.K] < [G.sub.J] and [q.s [G.sub.x] [greater than or equal to] [q.sub.y](J)[G.sub.y] If [q.sub.x](J) [greater than or equal to] [q.sub.y](J), notice that [q.sub.x](J)[G.sub.x] + [1 - [q.sub.x](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] c) [greater than or equal to] [q.sub.x](J)[G.sub.y] + [1 - [q.sub.x] (J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c) [greater than or equal to] [q.sub.y](J)[G.sub.y] + [1 - [q.sub.y](J)][delta]([G.sub.J] - c), where the first inequality follows from [G.sub.x] [greater than or equal to] [G.sub.y] and the second inequality follows from [q.sub.x](J) [greater than or equal to] [q.sub.y](J) and [G.sub.y] [greater than or equal to] [G.sub.J] > [delta]([G.sub.J] - c).

(8) Moore, Newman, and Turnbull (2001) found that a publication in economics journals ranked 1-10, 11-55, and 56 and below, increases salary by 2.9%, 1.7%, and 0.1%, respectively. The true contribution to salary is slightly higher, however, because of the additional effect of citations on salary. Sauer (1988) finds that including the effect of citations on salary, publication in the top journal is worth an increase of 3.8% in salary, and publications in the journals ranked as 10th, 20th, 40th, and 80th are worth 61.6%, 53.1%, 34.1%, and 18.9% of the value of publication in the top journal. Price and Razzolini (2002) estimate wage equations from censored salary data generated by grant applications submitted to the National Science Foundation Economics Program. A publication in the top six economics journals increases salary by 0.5-3.6% (in the various specifications), and a publication in any economics journal increases salary by 0.2-0.5%.

(9) For example, with a salary of $90,000, a discount rate of 6%, and 30 years until retirement, assuming that the paper will eventually be published in a level 1 journal, the publication increases annual salary by $2,700 (3% of $90,000), so an editorial delay of 4 months costs the author about $900. Similarly, for papers that will be published eventually in level 2 or 3 journals, the cost of the editorial delay is about $510 or $210, respectively.

(10) I thank an anonymous referee for making the point that "time costs" and "money costs" are potentially substitutes. This can also be seen in Table 3: we can shorten the FRT and keep the cutoff probability (and therefore the number of submissions) unchanged if we increase the submission fees. To keep the cutoff probability at 4.5%, for example, if we reduce the FRT from 4 to 2 months, we have to increase submission fees from $50 to $375. Increasing submission fees, however, has various other effects, such as discriminating against authors from developing countries and in favor of authors whose submission fees are funded by their institution or a grant (or those who have a generous and flexible research budget from which they pay submission fees). Examining in more detail the issue of optimal submission fees is a worthwhile project but is beyond the scope of the current article.

(11) Table 3 is based on the benefits associated with a publication in level-1 and level-2 journals, so it does not apply directly to the comparison between level-2 and level-3 journals. The main point, however, that a small reduction in FRT will have to be compensated by a very significant increase in submission fees to keep the cutoff probability unchanged (and thus to prevent the number of submissions from increasing), is similar when we compare level-2 to level-3 journals as well.

(12) Details about how the acceptance chances of the top journals were computed are available from the author on request.

Offer H. Azar, Department of Business Administration, School of Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. Box 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel; E-mail: azat@som.bgu.ac.il.

The author thanks Gadi Barlevy, Jacques Cremer, James Dana, Eddie Dekel, Glenn Ellison, Ricky Lain, Nisan Langberg, Nadav Levy, Robert Porter, William Rogerson, Michael Whinston, Asher Wolinsky, and especially the Editor, Laura Razzolini, and two anonymous referees for helpful discussions and comments. Financial support from The Center for the Study of Industrial Organization at Northwestern University is gratefully acknowledged.

Received September 2003; accepted March 2005.
Table 1. Submission Fees in Various Journals

 Submission Fee
 (Members or Submission
Journal Subscribers) Fee (Others)

Economics journals
 American Economic Review $100 $200
 Canadian Journal of Economics $25 $65a
 Econometrica $0 $30a
 Economica $0 $49a
 Economic Inquiry $100 $160
 International Economic Review $65 $125
 Journal of Economic Theory $0 $0
 Journal of Labor Economics $0 $0
 Journal of Mathematical Economics $0 $0
 Journal of Monetary Economics $100 $175
 Journal of Political Economy $75 $125
 Quarterly Journal of Economics $0 $0
 RAND Journal of Economics $50 $85
 Review of Economics & Statistics $0 $58
 Review of Economic Studies $0 $0
 Southern Economic Journal $50 $110 (a)
Accounting journals
 The Accounting Review $125 $200
 Journal of Accounting & Economics $250 $300
 Journal of Accounting Research $250 $250
Finance journals
 Journal of Finance $70 $140
 Journal of Financial Economics $500 $550
 Review of Financial Studies $125 $175

The data were taken from the journals' websites in March 2005.
Where submission fees differ according to the author's geographic
location, they refer to U.S. submissions.

(a) Submission fee for nonmembers and nonsubscribers includes an
annual membership or subscription.

Table 2. First-Response Times (FRT) in Various Journals (in Days)

 Median Mean Source/
 FRT FRT Period Journal Issue

Economics journals
 Quarterly Journal NA 47 1997 Ellison (2002a)
 of Economics
 114
 82
 Canadian Journal 91 1/1/02- The journal's
 of Economics 12/1/02 website
 Journal of 103 108 2000/2001 September 2001
 Economic History
 Southern Economic 107 122 2001 October 2002
 Journal
 American Economic 109 122 7/1/00- May 2002
 Review 6/30/01
 Econometrica 110 122 2000 January 2002
 98 92
 108 122
 Economic Journal 137 137 2000 RES Newsletter
 (Jan 2003)
 137 125
 168 188
 European 143 165 2000 May 2002
 Economic Review
 RAND Journal 153 131 2000 Summer 2002
 of Economics
 Economic Inquiry NA 159 1/1/02- October 2002
 4/15/02
 Journal of NA 167 2000 Ellison (2002a)
 Political Economy
 Review of 175 171 9/2000- The journal's
 Economic Studies 2/2001 website
 194 198
 159 138
Accounting journals
 Accounting Review 51 52 3/1/01- July 2002
 2/28/02
 Journal of Accounting 52 53 12 months August 2002
 and Economics ending
 4/2002
Finance journals
 Journal of Financial 37 43 10/2001- The journal's
 Economics 9/2002 website
 Journal of Finance 39 44 3/l/00- The journal's
 7/31/02 website

 Median Mean
 FRT FRT Comments

Economics journals
 Quarterly Journal NA 47 All papers
 of Economics
 114 Accepted papers
 only
 82 Papers sent to
 referees
 Canadian Journal 91
 of Economics
 Journal of 103 108 Including
 Economic History resubmissions
 Southern Economic 107 122 New submissions
 Journal only
 American Economic 109 122 Rejected papers
 Review only
 Econometrica 110 122 New submissions
 only
 98 92 Revisions only
 108 122 All papers
 Economic Journal 137 137 All papers
 137 125 Letters advising
 rejection
 168 188 Letters inviting
 revision
 European 143 165
 Economic Review
 RAND Journal 153 131 Simple average of
 of Economics the four quarters
 of the year
 Economic Inquiry NA 159
 Journal of NA 167
 Political Economy
 Review of 175 171 New submissions
 Economic Studies only
 194 198 First revision
 159 138 Second revision
Accounting journals
 Accounting Review 51 52 Including
 resubmissions
 Journal of Accounting 52 53
 and Economics
Finance journals
 Journal of Financial 37 43
 Economics
 Journal of Finance 39 44 Including
 resubmissions

Additional details about the computations performed (in those
cases that the journals publish the distribution rather than
the mean or median) can be obtained from the author on request.

Table 3. Optimal Submission Strategy: Cutoff Probabilities between
Level-1 and Level-2 Journals

 Fee
 Delay
(Months) $0 $50 $100 $150 $200

 0.04 0.2% 0.5% 0.8% 1.1% 1.4%
 1 1.0% 1.3% 1.7% 2.0% 2.3%
 2 2.0% 2.3% 2.6% 3.0% 3.3%
 3 3.0% 3.4% 3.7% 4.1% 4.4%
 4 4.2% 4.5% 4.9% 5.3% 5.6%
 5 5.4% 5.8% 6.2% 6.5% 6.9%
 6 6.7% 7.1% 7.5% 7.9% 8.2%
 8 9.6% 9.9% 10.3% 10.7% 11.1%
10 12.5% 12.9% 13.3% 13.7% 14.0%
12 15.6% 16.0% 16.3% 16.7% 17.0%

 Fee
 Delay
(Months) $250 $300 $350 $400

 0.04 1.7% 2.1% 2.4% 2.7%
 1 2.6% 3.0% 3.3% 3.6%
 2 3.7% 4.0% 4.3% 4.7%
 3 4.8% 5.1% 5.5% 5.8%
 4 6.0% 6.3% 6.7% 7.1%
 5 7.3% 7.6% 8.0% 8.4%
 6 8.6% 9.0% 9.3% 9.7%
 8 11.4% 11.8% 12.2% 12.5%
10 14.4% 14.8% 15.1% 15.5%
12 17.4% 17.8% 18.1% 18.5%

The numbers in the table represent the cutoff probability when an
author has to choose whether to submit his article to a level-1
(top 10 journals) or level-2 (journals ranked 11-55) journal. If the
probability of acceptance in level-t journals is higher than the
cutoff probability, the author should submit to a level-1 journal,
otherwise he should submit to a level-2 journal.
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Author:Azar, Ofer H.
Publication:Southern Economic Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2005
Words:5966
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