# Incentives Matter: A Proposal to Speed up Academic Publishing

Publishing in an academic journal is a long and grueling process. But much of the length of time is spent simply waiting for reviewers – who are volunteer and unpaid – to do the hard work of determining contribution and quality of the submitted manuscript.

**Edited: Thanks to @FarmerHayek and @AparnaHowlader for pointing me to Trevon Logan’s original tweet-proposal about up-or-down decisions.

Last week @TrevonDLogan proposed that editors commit to up-or-down decisions after one round of reviews. This would definitely speed up the publishing process by curtailing the time involved in multiple rounds of review.

My proposal piggyback’s this idea, but it attacks a different cause of the publication delay.

Because reviewers are unpaid, the task almost always goes to the bottom of their to-do list. I am the worst. Generally, an article review doesn’t even get on my to-do list until the editor has nudged me twice. I know, I’m a terrible person.

## A Proposal

Get incentives aligned and grease the wheels with money.

1. Charge a submission fee of $900 for each manuscript 2. Pay three reviewers$300 each for submitting a well considered review within 14 days
1. If the review is late, no $300 2. Perhaps refund the$300 to the author since the premise of the submission fee is a quick review

Problem solved. Aggregate costs are zero, since everyone who submits a paper need only review three articles to make up the submission fee, which they are currently expected to do for free anyway.

I think this is enough money to get an article review onto most professor’s to-do list.

The biggest hurdle is what to do about brand new assistant professors who don’t usually have a lot of money but will have 3 papers to submit within the first year. In this case, departments have a couple of options. If the new professor has a start-up package, they could use these funds. If they don’t, the department could pay the submission fee, to be paid back by the professor after they do three reviews

### Reposts

• David Ortega
• AAEA
• Joel Wood
• Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega
• Jayson Lusk
• Per Bylund
• William J. Luther
• Rebecca Boehm
• Sean Fox
• Mark Koyama
• Noel Johnson
• CWAE AAEA
• Levi Russell 📈

### Mentions

• CWAE AAEA
• Remy Z. Levin
• Stan O.
• Joel Wood
• Trevon D Logan
• Mindy Mallory
• Mindy Mallory

1. I know some finance journals charge relatively high submission fees, $250 to$500. Reviewers paid. Does it help speed up their process? I would hope so. I think one journal shames reviewers by posting their turnaround time. That might be effective!

2. Yes!

3. My limited experience has been not a huge difference between economics and finance turnarounds, but that’s based only on a very limited sample.

4. Slight concern about bad reviewers turning out many low quality reviews just to raise . Editors would have to screen more/better?

5. I think it would totally be appropriate to give veto power to the editor. If they think the review was not made in good faith, no payment. Perhaps with potential to appeal to the editorial board to prevent abusive or discriminatory editors.

6. Great Idea, will the old gaurd accept it?? From my dealings with Econ profs I simply cannot see this happening… now is there a business opportunity here? Absolutely!

7. I don’t know why not. It doesn’t disadvantage them.

8. I can see a possible problem that a first mover might, at least initially, lose submissions to no-/low-cost journals.

9. I was thinking about this this morning. It might be more successful if you could get 4-5 of the journals in a field to commit and implement together.

10. But isn’t this quite deterring for scholars from developing nations ? A very high submission fees simply puts them out of the mkt.