Publishing and Promotion in Economics: The Tyranny of the Top Five

68 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2018

See all articles by James J. Heckman

James J. Heckman

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Sidharth Moktan

University of Chicago

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2018

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between placement of publications in Top Five (T5) journals and receipt of tenure in academic economics departments. Analyzing the job histories of tenure-track economists hired by the top 35 U.S. economics departments, we find that T5 publications have a powerful influence on tenure decisions and rates of transition to tenure. A survey of the perceptions of young economists supports the formal statistical analysis. Pursuit of T5 publications has become the obsession of the next generation of economists. However, the T5 screen is far from reliable. A substantial share of influential publications appear in non-T5 outlets. Reliance on the T5 to screen talent incentivizes careerism over creativity.

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Suggested Citation

Heckman, James J. and Moktan, Sidharth, Publishing and Promotion in Economics: The Tyranny of the Top Five (September 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25093. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3258190

James J. Heckman (Contact Author)

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Sidharth Moktan

University of Chicago ( email )

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