Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Send your referee to Gitmo 

Tyler Cowen and Bryan Caplan are discussing career advice. I agree with Caplan that most of the time referees suffer from anal-cranial inversions. They take very little time to read and understand articles; those that do are quite young and haven't yet developed enough sense to just read the articles they really can help referee. Given they are unpaid, there are no incentives that help you get good reports. (Note to other academics: There is NO law that says you must referee every article an editor sends you. My life has improved dramatically since I've started saying no.)

On Cowen's point five, returns to quality are high, but tenure is often a function of quantity, as Caplan points out. Deans in fact do count -- oftentimes, so too do departmental tenure and promotion committees. Understand the counting rules, use them in your favor. Once you reach tenure, you can have the luxury of just aiming at top-40 journals.

However, never pass up an opportunity to get your writing out before other people, even if it's in a non-top-30 journal. Working papers are great. If your field has something like SSRN, use it. Store your paper online everywhere you can. Your readers use Google.

Last, economists tend to eschew writing books because they learn books don't count as much in promotion and tenure. That's true, so maybe don't write one before then. But my year writing my first book was one of the most professionally gratifying years I've ever had; you control the product much more than that paper you had to revise and resubmit, including comment three which blew out the point you really wanted to make. You don't have to compromise with a book.