Editorial: Cosmetic Surgery in the Academic Review Process
15 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2014
Date Written: September 19, 2014
Has the academic review process become excessive? I describe a model in which reviewers who seek reputations with editors for high skill recommend the repair of mere blemishes as well as significant flaws. Reviewer signal-jamming is profitable if editors have trouble distinguishing the two, leading in equilibrium to insistence upon cosmetic surgery. Indeed, if there is a chance that blemishes are unremovable, in equilibrium editor and reviewer demands sometimes cause good papers to remain unpublished. This implies a socially valuable role for active editing. Signal-jamming incentives may especially suppress innovative papers, as well as external verification by means of follow-up papers. This perspective strongly suggests that the increased burden of the review process is undesirable. I offer tentative thoughts about what to do about it.
Keywords: cosmetic surgery, review process, publication process, publication delay, academic journals, sociology of science, signal-jamming, reputation, information asymmetry
JEL Classification: A14, G00, L86, D82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation