This page describes current editorial procedures and policies of Econometrica. View the instructions for submitting papers to Econometrica. View the instructions for preparing papers for publication in Econometrica.
- Aims and Scope
- Review Process
- Prior Publication Policy
- Decisions Process
- Replication Policy
- Conflict of Interest Policy
- Sharing Referee Reports with Other Journals
1. AIMS AND SCOPE
The purpose of the Econometric Society is defined in Section 1 of the Constitution: "The Econometric Society is an international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation to statistics and mathematics . . . Its main object is to promote studies that aim at the unification of the theoretical-quantitative and the empirical-quantitative approach to economic problems and that are penetrated by constructive and rigorous thinking."
Econometrica publishes original articles in all branches of economics—theoretical and empirical, abstract and applied—providing wide-ranging coverage across the field. It promotes studies that are supported by rigorous analysis. The topics published are unrestricted, including the frontier of developments in economic and econometric theory, research on applied economic problems, and empirical studies. The crucial ingredients for the papers we publish are that they be interesting, original, and well crafted, and that they use whatever mathematical and/or statistical tools are appropriate for the problem at hand.
Econometrica has no tightly controlled policy towards subject matter. No paper is rejected because it is "too mathematical" or "too quantitative," nor is a paper rejected because it is "not mathematical enough" or "too applied." A theoretical paper need not have an application to be insightful, and empirical or applied work can successfully address an important question without providing a methodological contribution.
Because our membership includes economists with a variety of research interests, it is necessary that contributions be of interest to a wide audience, and prepared so that non-specialists understand the main message and why the results are important. Authors of papers with highly abstract theoretical analysis should therefore write the motivation and description of the main results (and as much of the paper as possible), in a manner that is accessible to a broad audience, and authors of applied papers should make their work accessible to members who may have less acquaintance with, for example, some of the institutions being considered.
Econometrica maintains a long tradition that most submitted articles are refereed carefully. Nevertheless, some papers are rejected after having been read by a member of the editorial board but without providing detailed reports. This is intended as a service to authors to avoid them waiting when papers are clearly not suitable, and also to save on the scarce resource of referees. An international board of editors, together with the generous help of many referees, works hard to maintain the deep and timely reviews, thereby encouraging submissions of the highest quality. The list of referees and turnaround time can be found in the yearly reports.
We strongly encourage recent Ph. D. graduates to submit their work to Econometrica. Our policy is to
take into account the fact that recent graduates are less experienced in the process of writing and
2. REVIEW PROCESS
We cannot pre-review papers. Only papers submitted as described above will be considered.
Once a submission has been made the Editor will reply with an electronic message that acknowledges
receipt of the manuscript. After the author membership is confirmed and the manuscript checked for
compatibility with our instructions (as described in the submission instructions), the review process will
begin and a second electronic message will be sent to the corresponding author indicating the manuscript
number (MS#) assigned to it. This number should be cited in all future correspondence.
Most, but not all, papers are sent to one or more outside referees, one of whom is often an Associate
Editor of the journal. These Associate Editors are leading economists who have been kind enough to
agree to referee a large number of papers for us in a timely manner; we are very grateful for their help
and try to use it wisely. We also try to be considerate of all of those who donate their time to referee
papers for the journal. Thus, referees are instructed that we do not expect them to try to decipher poorly
prepared manuscripts; a submission may be rejected solely because typographical errors and imprecise
definitions make it hard to understand.
The desire to economize on scarce refereeing resources is the main reason that the Coeditor in charge
will sometimes choose to reject a paper without calling on outside referees. This may happen if the paper
has an obvious mistake, or is so poorly written that its correctness cannot be determined; it can also
occur when the paper is both correct and clear, but seems inappropriate for this journal for various
reasons. In such cases, the best policy for all concerned is that the paper be returned to the author(s) as
quickly as possible.
Beyond ensuring that published papers are novel, important, and correct, the editorial staff would also like
them to appear in a timely fashion. Usually, we aim to complete the review process within four to five
months, although some papers may take longer. (We attempt to send out decisions on papers that are
rejected without review within a couple of weeks.) The yearly Editor's Report published in the January
issue of the journal and online at http://www.econometricsociety.org/editorsreports.asp, contains statistics
regarding our current performance. We welcome reminders and complaints from authors who experience
a long delay.
3. PRIOR PUBLICATION POLICY
If an author has submitted or published related work elsewhere, or does so during the term in which
Econometrica is considering the manuscript, then it is the author's responsibility to provide Econometrica
with details. This notification must include appearances in Proceedings volumes (such as AER P&P,
JEEA P&P, IEEE Proceedings and so on.) The determination of what constitutes previous publication is
difficult and takes into account many features, such as whether it is available in a format likely to be held
in perpetuity by libraries, whether the previous format is paper or electronic, and sold or freely available,
whether the format is considered by colleagues as publication for review purposes, the extent of peer
review, the extent of overlap, and so on. Obviously each criterion is arguable, and in any case this will be
decided on a case-by-case basis. But authors must note all cases of publication other than in working
paper series or on personal or university websites. In all cases, work that is submitted to Econometrica
will be evaluated based on its contribution relative to the existing published literature, which includes any
instances that are determined to constitute previous publication as described previously and all work under consideration for publication elsewhere (as we cannot know what will be accepted, the presumption will be that work simultaneously submitted elsewhere is published.)
4. DECISION PROCESS
Manuscripts may be rejected, returned for specified revision, or accepted.
Revisions are, in general, of two forms: those cases where the editors see potential promise, but cannot identify even likely conditions for acceptance, and those where the editors have a better sense of the potential paper they would like to see. We aim to provide specific suggestions, but obviously will be more successful only in the latter case. In the former case, the likelihood for significant further revision is high.
In the ordinary course of events, we expect authors who are offered the opportunity to submit a revised version of their paper to return it within one year. If a paper is returned after two years, there will be no presumption that it will be sent to the original Co-Editor (especially if he/she has left the board) and, given the passage of time, the Co-Editor will be able to use his/her decision process.
The decision letter regarding the revisions provides as much detail as the editor is capable of providing. We ask that authors not contact us for further advice, or send us outlines for suggested revisions, or even “tentative” revisions. We will review revisions upon resubmission only.
Accepted manuscripts may be published as a paper or in the notes and comments section of the journal--this decision is made by the editor handling the paper.
Unless the coeditor specifies otherwise, decisions are final. Unsolicited revisions of rejected papers will normally be rejected without review.
5. REPLICATION POLICY
Econometrica has the policy that all empirical, experimental and simulation results must be replicable. Therefore, authors of accepted papers must submit data sets, programs, and information on empirical analysis, experiments and simulations that are needed for replication and some limited sensitivity analysis. (Authors of experimental papers can consult the more detailed posted information regarding submission of Experimental papers.)
This material will be made available through the Econometrica supplementary material web-page. Submitting this material indicates that you license users to download, copy, and modify it; when doing so such users must acknowledge all authors as the original creators and Econometrica as the original publishers.
At the same time the editors understand that there may be some practical difficulties, such as in the case of proprietary datasets with limited access as well as public use data sets that require consent forms to be signed before use. In these cases detailed data description and the programs used to generate the estimation data sets must be provided, as well as information of the source of the data so that researchers who do obtain access may be able to replicate the results. This exemption is offered on the understanding that the authors made reasonable effort to obtain permission to make available the final data used in estimation, but were not granted permission. We also understand that in some particularly complicated cases programs may have value in themselves and the authors may not make them public. Similarly, there may be compelling reasons to restrict usage, and if we agree we will post a notice on the web site regarding such restrictions.
Requests for an exemption from providing the materials described here, or for restricting their usage, should be stated clearly when the paper is first submitted for review. It will be at the editors’ discretion whether the paper can then be reviewed. Exceptions will not be considered later in the review and publication process.
What happens if you disagree with the referee reports and the Editor's decision? The general principle (but not inflexible rule) is that our decision is final. Referees are rarely convinced by counterarguments to their reports. Sometimes the problem is one of communication; for example, the referee does not understand what the author really means. The fact, however, that such a problem exists for a supposedly expert (but sometimes unsympathetic) referee is important information. Editors on their part are rarely convinced by arguments that a referee who failed to understand the paper was incompetent or sloppy, as they have additional information contained in the referee’s cover letter and their identity (and often further correspondence with the referee).
It is important to understand that referees often make various specific comments, but that the reason for rejection is based on the more general consideration that the contribution is not sufficient. Arguing about one of the detailed comments is not fruitful; in fact, many of those comments are intended to be useful advice and not explanations for the assessment.
Rejections are very often a matter of subjective judgment regarding the importance and relevance of the contribution, and neither the editorial board not the journal can survive if these subjective assessments are open to debate. For these reasons our decisions are (almost always) final.
An appeal may be appropriate when the issue is one of unambiguous fact and when the fact was clearly a major part of the decision to reject the paper. For example, the referee says that "Theorem A in the paper is a trivial consequence of the well-known result B;" however, B does not apply since one of its conditions is not satisfied. The importance or relevance of the work is not an issue of fact but of judgment and an appeal on such grounds will not be considered.
However, we are not final arbiters. When we reject a paper, it can be (and usually is) submitted to another independent journal. This is the "appeal procedure" which is built into the system; our policy that rejections are normally definitive relies upon this type of initiative by authors who disagree with the reports of referees.
7. CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY
The journal’s conflict of interest appears in the 2007-2008 Editors’ Report and in the Aide Memoire of the Econometric Society (http://www.econometricsociety.org/ecta/allreports/aidememoire.pdf).
Co-Editors will not handle papers of their current colleagues, their thesis advisors, their active co-authors and Ph.D. students for whom they were the main advisor; in addition, they will not handle the papers of Ph.D. students they advised even in a less central way within two years of graduation. Finally, Co-Editors will not have access to the referee reports or names of referees on papers written by authors with whom they have one of the conflict issues described above.
8. SHARING REFEREE REPORTS WITH OTHER JOURNALS
If an Econometric Society journal forwards to us a request from an author to transfer the editorial file of an Econometrica submission (listing our reference number for the submission and the title), we will send the material to the journal, i.e., (i) the referee reports; (ii) decision letter; and - with the additional permission of individual referees - (iii) referees' names and (iv) cover letters. We ask the journals to honor our
"conflict of interest" policies saying that referee reports on an author's paper should not be seen by co-editors