Revealed Preferences for Journals: Evidence from Page Limits

David Card, Stefano DellaVigna

NBER Working Paper No. 18663
Issued in December 2012
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Industrial Organization, Labor Studies, Public Economics, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Academic journals set a variety of policies that affect the supply of new manuscripts. We study the impact of page limit policies adopted by the American Economic Review (AER) in 2008 and the Journal of the European Economic Association (JEEA) in 2009 in response to a substantial increase in the length of articles in economics. We focus the analysis on the decision by potential authors to either shorten a longer manuscript in response to the page limit, or submit to another journal. For the AER we find little indication of a loss of longer papers - instead, authors responded by shortening the text and reformatting their papers. For JEEA, in contrast, we estimate that the page length policy led to nearly complete loss of longer manuscripts. These findings provide a revealed-preference measure of competition between journals and indicate that a top-5 journal has substantial monopoly power over submissions, unlike a journal one notch below. At both journals we find that longer papers were more likely to receive a revise and resubmit verdict prior to page limits, suggesting that the loss of longer papers may have had a detrimental effect on quality at JEEA. Despite a modest impact of the AER's policy on the average length of submissions (-5%), the policy had little or no effect on the length of final accepted manuscripts. Our results highlight the importance of evaluating editorial policies.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18663

Published: Page Limits on Economics Articles: Evidence from Two Journals (pp. 149-68) David Card and Stefano DellaVigna Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 28 No. 3 (Summer 2014)

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